However, just because our regular services aren't happening doesn't mean I'm on vacation or that ministry has stopped. In fact, I'm taking the opportunity to do several things, things I would encourage you to do as well anytime you have a break from your normal routine:
- Get ahead. So far I've already got an entire teaching series ("Exodus", a study of the book over 6 weeks, more on that later) mapped out for after the first of the year. I also hope to have all the other service elements (games, music, videos, small groups) basically planned out for the first 6 weeks of 2012. Along with that, over the next several weeks I hope to get our Sunday morning Bible Studies ready for January.
- Leader training/encouragement. This break in services allows me the opportunity to spend time with our adult and student leaders and train them and encourage them. We've already met once and planned out our activities for the first quarter of 2012, our summer mission trip, and spent time encouraging each other. I hope to meet with them once more before Christmas to write cards to our students and do some more training on mentoring and counseling, and dream about the coming year.
- Assist/support other ministries. Part of my "full-time" job status involves helping to lead worship. I'm taking some of the extra time I have during the week that's not being spent on prepping for our midweek to work on a few things in the worship ministry, such as building up our instrumentalists, selecting new music, and updating some of our media resources. I've also made myself available to our music minister as she works on the church's Christmas musical. On top of that, I've been talking with our Children's Ministry Team to see what their needs are and I hope to plug some students in to helping out in those areas.
- Catch up on "side projects". There are always a million little things on my to-do list that don't have a specific due date on them that consequently never seem to get done. Some extra time means I can work through some of those and finally feel some accomplishment. For example, I had several article/writing ideas on the backburner that I've had the chance to crank out over the last couple weeks, and hope to write some more in the weeks to come.
- Spend time with students. A break from the routine means I'm almost forced into this one if I want to stay connected with our youth. Luckily, they'll be on break soon and that means lots of hanging out, eating, and playing with students leading up to Christmas. We all know that time spent with youth outside of church is almost always more valuable than structured program time, so I'm not mad about this at all!
- Time off. Even though I said before that I'm not on vacation and ministry hasn't stopped, this "break" in YM is the perfect opportunity for me to burn through the remaining vacation days I have. I have one day set aside already to play the copy of Batman: Arkham City that has been sitting unopened on my entertainment center for a couple weeks, I'm taking another day to spend with my son just sitting around the house in our PJs playing and doing dude things all day, and the last one I just tacked onto the end of our staff Christmas break so that I can stretch out our family's time together over the holidays by another day.
That's it! There are a few other odds and ends I'm hoping to do over this break, including reading and studying for personal growth, and I'm excited to have this opportunity (even though I was honestly kind of annoyed with it at first).
What about you? How do you spend your time when you get little breaks from your usual routine?