Addressing the Busyness Excuse in Ministry

Fall is upon us. School, sports, band, chorus, clubs, church programs, and much more are in full gear. One of the common things I hear from both parents and students on a regular basis is that they are just too busy. “Megan has a big test to study for,” or “Ryan has a lot of homework,” or “I have practice after school.” I don’t just hear these things from other students or parents; these realities are in my own home too. I have teenagers, and our family is right there too. The struggle is real! However, I believe we need to have a paradigm shift. Here is a challenging thought you can share with families when you hear the old, “We’re too busy” excuse (as legitimate as it is). The truth is we are all busy! When I speak to students and parents, it is this reality that drives me to say, “Our busyness is precisely why we must make time to be together.” A few years ago I wrote down this statement: Our feet reveal our values. Where we choose to spend our time communicates what is most important to us. When, in the middle of our busy week, we take a timeout—when we choose to stop for a couple of hours to take a breather, to be with other Christ-followers who have also stepped out of the rat race to catch their breath—we are saying some crucial things:

  1. We are testifying that we are followers of the way of Jesus not merely minions of our culture.
  2. We are getting together to hear what God says about how to live well.
  3. We are humbly admitting our weakness as humans, and our need for rest and refreshment. We can’t just go, go, go all the time. Even Jesus (God living as a human) needed time away from His busy schedule, and He told His disciples to disconnect from their busyness as well. (See Mark 1:35-37; 6:31)
  4. We are confessing that our strength comes from the Lord, not simply from our efforts and willpower.'
  5. We are reminding ourselves that we are not alone.
  6. We are offering one another the gift of fellowship.
  7. We are supporting our fellow-strugglers by gathering together to share and listen and pray for one another.
  8. And finally, we are obeying God’s Word which says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another…” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

My challenge to you is to encourage your youth not see youth group, small group, or church generally as just another thing you have to do—an item on a checklist. It is not extra credit; it is a core requirement of life. Taking a timeout of your busyness isn’t the most efficient use of time, but it is essential to your health.