How to Create Rhythms with Hectic Ministry Schedules

Great question today from Brody Snell. Good to see you love having you in the community. I love when I start recognizing names and people, because they’ve been in the community so long and ask good questions and stuff. So, love you guys and thanks for the question.

Said, “Me and my wife are in the ministry profession. Our life revolves around people’s lives. It feels hard to create a rhythm when we are confined to when others are free. What do you suggest for those in the ministry profession? P.S. We help college students. They typically have little, to no schedule at all.”

Oh, that’s a tough one, and that’s a tough one for me to answer because I get super triggered at the sentence of “Our life revolves around other people’s lives and schedules.”

That’s Jeff’s version of hell.

Yeah, exactly. That should not happen. We should never say that sentence, but I do understand what you’re saying. I do understand what you’re saying. So one thing I would say is lean into that. I just don’t think that’s true. I think that’s a false premise that ministry people do believe. Millions of people believe, so you’re not alone in believing that’s how ministry should operate, but it doesn’t have to operate that way. I fully believe that the best ministry is one that’s coming out of a filling, one that’s coming out of someone being a whole, someone that’s flourishing. So if you feel like you’re full and you’re flourishing and that then your time is basically up for everyone else’s grabs, then I think that’s totally fine, actually. And I do think sometimes college ministry is that. But if you feel like that’s teetering you guys on the edge of burnout or whatever, then I think you got to start over, right? It’s never at the expense for that.

So that’s fair, but then two, to answer your question, because I do understand it is hard. I used to do college ministry, too, back when we lived in Washington. And it is difficult, specifically with college students, there are times that they need. Especially if you have kids, because it’s opposite. The kids’ schedules are opposite of late nights and sporadic, et cetera.

One thing I would say is don’t let them… How do I say this? It’s very easy to buy the lie that you have to operate on their schedule when, no, the college students that you want to pour into will… I remember I would drop anything for the mentors I wanted to get to, or for the times I wanted to get to. So pay attention to the people who are willing to bend for you because those are the people I think you need to pour into, not everyone else. Believe in discipleship by multiplication, not addition. So pour into three, in hopes that it’ll reach 20, not pour into 20.

Another thing too, I would say, is fold them into your rhythms. The best thing you can do, especially in a college environment, 99% of ministry should be them coming over for a meal at your house, 99%. And maybe you put the kids down and they stay late after and you guys have a cigar or bourbon or a bottle of water, depending on the denomination of the backyard.

These are college students, Jeff.

Well, hey, it’s a senior, senior college student, right? So they’re over 21 if they’re a senior. You’re right, you’re right. So, then they can go bottled water if they’re under 21. But I think, just enfold them into your dinners, enfold them into your house. That was the most life giving practices that ever happened to me is seeing homes and families at that stage, and so definitely don’t forsake that. Anything you’d add Jeremy?

Yeah, I agree 100%. I love what you said about bring them over to your house for dinner. There’s a great verse in the Psalms. It says God has placed the solitary in homes or in families. And one of the lies that the culture believes is that you are living your best season of life when you’re in college, when your life is most self-centered the least amount of responsibility. And the Bible’s idea of the good life is Psalm 128. It’s a father, grandfather with all of his around his table. It’s in the home is the best experiences and the highest peaks of life. That’s what we believe in the biblical narrative of life. And so it’s important that we don’t bend all the way. Obviously, if you’re doing contact work with nonbelievers, it’s really important that you put that into your rhythm.

I think one really practical thing that I really emphasize and we’ve really lived into, I was on staff at churches for about eight years, is that I did not want to be out of the house two nights in a row. So the way that I worked for me and even to this day, this is kind of the way it works. I do ministry stuff on Sunday night on Tuesday night and on Thursday night. And I do most of that activity integrated with my family, but those are ministry nights for our family and for me. But that means that I’m never doing ministry nights away from or not fully immersed in the home two nights in a row. So Saturday night, Monday night, Wednesday night and Friday night are all protected nights where, what comes first, isn’t the ministry, isn’t the person who needs help. It’s my own kids and our family. But on Tuesday night, on Thursday night, and on Sunday night, what is best for ministry, for the church as a whole and our family integrating and serving into that. That’s how we live.

And so we’ve found that that rhythm works for us. That’s a pretty heavy ministry rhythm. I think it’s too heavy for young families. It makes sense for us in this season, but I would be really thoughtful. Budget first, the family time. Put that stuff into your rhythm first. What times are you protecting with your family, with your kids and then build ministry around that. And then I think the number one tool, like Jeff said, is minister through the home. That is so important. Your kids need to see you doing that. Those college students need to see you being a dad and a mom. And that is real good discipleship, when they’re experiencing the familiness of your house, that’s really getting them close to the heart of the Father and the heart of what the church is really designed to be. It’s a Kingdom experience is to be at somebody’s table. So really lean heavy into that when you’re doing college ministry.

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