Contributor – Bryant Johnson, Lead Consultant with Ministry Architects

You’ve likely heard these words recently as someone shares why they will miss your program this week. “I’ve got to get my homework done. Maybe I’ll make it next week.” Or, “Our calendar is just so busy with sports, school, and everything in between.” Busy is one of the biggest reasons that youth give today for not being involved in youth ministry programming. They’re just too busy. And “crazy busy” seems to be the norm today, although, I’m not convinced that it should be called normal.

“Crazy busy” seems to be equated with other words like productive, better, and quality. You often hear statements like, “that ministry has so much to offer and so much to do” or “there’s something going on every week.” Busy is not always better. Busy is often tired, worn down, scared, and distracted. Let’s not forget that it can be the cause of that all too well-known experience of being burned-out.

My schedule is sometimes too busy as well. Just this past fall, I had four of the four weekends in October booked up. I realize I am part of the problem, but I think our ministries can be part of the solution as well. It makes me ask, “Is what I model or what I do more important to the lives of the youth that I serve?”

The youth ministry calendar often reflects the “busy” that I want to combat. We have our regular weekly program(s). Then this weekend we may have our retreat, next weekend begins the fundraiser, and then two weeks after that is the church event that the youth ministry is a part of, as we plan for the next mission event or lock-in. This may be fine, if you have multiple staff on your team. One person takes the middle school retreat while another takes the fundraiser the following weekend. However, many of us lead our ministries as the sole staff person.

I’m not sure crazy busy is what God called us to be. “Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8). Our calendars may more often reflect remembering the Sabbath as a thing in the past. Yet, Sabbath is a biblical rhythm of rest and enjoyment that has the ability to comfort, provide joy, a fresh perspective and excitement for what is to come.

As I plan my calendar each year, there are a few questions that I like to answer that helps me to set aside the urge to be “crazy busy.” I hope they are helpful for you as well.

  • When will my Sabbath take place this week?
  • When will my Sabbath take place in this month?
  • What weekends will we have events and how many am I able to maintain?
  • How many can I maintain and still be refreshed and renewed?

What weekends will have ministry black out dates in which only regular programming takes place?

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Bryant Johnson began working in youth ministry in 1997 and is currently serving at Harrison United Methodist Church in Pineville, NC. He has been worship speaker for summer camps, taught seminars for youth workers, and written curriculum for the Florida United Methodist Camping programs.

Bryant graduated from Florida Southern College with a Bachelor of Science in Sociology. In his free time Bryant enjoys all things technology, exercise, and good movies. He and his wife, Tonya, live in Charlotte, NC.