The Value of Gearing Down


By Andrew Esqueda

Summer is over and the new school year is here! For many of us we have tried to spend time recovering from our crazy summers of camps and mission trips, and we are already gearing up for our fall kick offs (although Fall has now been pushed earlier into summer). We are planning parties, grill outs, and the like, renting fun toys like bouncy houses and booking live music, and it’s likely that either you yourself will be doing the grilling/cooking or that you’ll be the one tasked with asking congregants to volunteer. I mean who doesn’t want to stand outside cooking in 80-90 degree weather while hovering over a 450-degree grill while basking in the smoke of meat and fiery coals? Yeah, we’ll let the youth person do it (oh, also if you could take care of all our sound needs that would be great as well).

We are gearing up and getting ready for 2017-2018, and it’s time to have energy to kick off what we all know is going to be a great year. Kick offs, grill outs, bouncy houses (especially bouncy houses) are all great and serve as vehicles for bringing people together. However, in the midst of gearing up for the school year, I’m also going to “gear down”, and I’m going to encourage you to do the same.

Instead of having a much-needed break and time to refresh our mind and spirit we’re rolling right into another year of the craziness that is youth ministry. The truth is that not only do we need a break, but our students do as well. They are beginning a new school year filled with new classes, new clubs, football and other fall sports, more attention-grabbing technology than ever, and more pressure for perfection from their peers and their parents. Our students are re-entering the world of over-programming, and the last thing we need to do is contribute to the problem. And, not only are they over-programmed, but often, we are too.

So, have your regular programs, but consider not adding anything extra; instead reinforce relationships. Programs can be life-sucking: there’s planning and execution, and so much more. But, relationships (at least usually) are life giving. Texting a student or a group of students and asking to get froyo is far more life giving than planning a lock-in that is guaranteed to leave you worn out the following morning when you realize that you got two hours of sleep or none at all. Go to a football game, be with people, and meet them in their own space. Not only are these things life giving for all parties involved, but they are also healthy modes of growing in relationship which will then, in turn, expand the reach of the Kingdom of God.

So as we gear up for all the 2017-2018 will bring, do your best to “gear down” and take some much needed time to focus on yourself and relationships with students and parents. Unfortunately, in the ministry that we have been called to, if we don’t “gear down” all that 2017-2018 has to offer might just pass us by.