As a youth pastor, your schedule is important. Your time is both limited and valuable, and that can make planning content for your weekly services a challenge from time to time. Between your day to day responsibilities at your church, prepping and pouring into your small group leaders, and making time for your students, finding the space to develop new content each and every week just isn’t easy.

Enter XP3! Helping eliminate the challenge of content creation for youth pastors is one of the reasons we do what we do. It’s our goal to provide you with what you need week after week to teach your students so that you can free up space in your schedule to do what only you can do—minister to your students and leaders!

And most of the time that works great! Until you reach the dreaded gap week, that is.

What exactly is a gap week? Well, simply put it’s a break built into our regular scope and cycle of curriculum. XP3 provides 12 weeks of content for every quarter, leaving just one week per quarter where there is no plan built in from our curriculum.

Why do we do that? It most definitely isn’t to make your life more difficult! In fact, our hope is that somehow, it makes it a little easier. We know there is rhythm to the calendar in your student ministry, and part of that rhythm requires you to take a break from time to time. Maybe your church is hosting a special event that takes the place of your student ministry gathering one week. Maybe it’s a holiday weekend like Labor Day, Fourth of July, or even Christmas, and you know your students won’t be in town. Or maybe your students are at camp or on a mission trip.

Whatever the reason, we know that there are going to be weeks when your student ministry doesn’t meet (or meets and needs to do something else). And building in a gap week to our scope and cycle allows you the flexibility without the fear of falling behind.

But we also know there are some of you who don’t always need that off week. And for you, the gap week doesn’t give you more flexibility or freedom; it just freaks you out. Don’t worry, we’re here to help with that too!

Instead of scrambling to create something on the fly or pull together a full program in only a few days, here are a few ideas to keep your student ministry moving during those gap weeks in curriculum.

  • Use your XPs.

As a part of our curriculum, XP3 provides several different components for you to use during your services and small group time. One of those is our XP (also known as the eXPerience piece). The XPs are designed to be done either in small group or during the week on their own time. They’re specifically created to help your students apply and experience what they learned during the series. And they make for a great activity to use during a gap week at your ministry! Have your students break up into small groups and complete the XP together during your gathering that week. Maybe even create a few follow up questions for your small group leaders to ask as they go. Repurposing the provided XPs for any series makes a great activity and application for your students during one of those off-weeks of our scope and cycle.

  • Use the Expansion Packs.

What exactly are Expansion Packs? We’re so glad you asked! Our team created Expansion Packs for ministries who meet more than one time during the week. So for example, if your student ministry meets on Sunday nights, you probably use an XP3 series for your content. But then what do you do on Wednesday nights when you meet again? That’s where the Expansion Pack comes in! This component provides you with additional activities, discussion questions, and more to build on what your students learned that Sunday. It’s just another way to think about and apply what they learned and provide you with content for that second gathering. And because it is aligned with the content you have been covering, makes it a great option to incorporate into a gap week as well! Learn more about Expansion Packs here.

  • Do something fun.

While your students probably love coming to your weekly gatherings, sometimes it’s nice to mix in something new, too. So use the gap week to do just that! Do something solely for the purpose of fun for your students that week. Host a meal, a comedy night, a talent show, or movie night at your church that week. Or take your students off-site to a local hang out for games, food, and more fun. Not only does this break up the usual routine at your church, it creates an easy opportunity for your students to invite their friends and hopefully get them excited about coming back to join you on a regular Sunday, too!

  • Think about what your students need.

Nobody knows your students better than you! So use this gap week to think about exactly what they need to hear. Has there been a loss or tragedy in your community recently? Maybe this is the week to address their grief. Is there a bad behavior or habit that’s permeating your student ministry? Think about talking to your students about that this week. Do you have a mission trip coming up? Use this week to share more about why we serve other people. Think about what’s happening in your community or context right now. What issues are your students facing? Take the gap week to create something that speaks directly to that!

And if you didn’t know, XP3 already has content that could help! The middle school series Trending and the high school series I Have Questions are series full of standalone messages designed to speak specifically to topics that impact your student ministry. These talks touch on everything from phones and media to suicide and self-harm. While they’re built into the current scope and cycle, they’re also a great resource to pull out when you need to speak specifically to an issue your students are dealing with right now!

  • Invite a guest speaker.

Your students hear from you and your leaders every single week. And while there’s nothing wrong with that (because you’re awesome!), there is something to be said for inviting a new face in to share with them every once in awhile. And the gap week provides you the opportunity to make that happen! Is there a leader in your community who could share with your students? A favorite teacher? A missionary from your congregation? A coach? Or maybe even a small group leader serving in your ministry? Invite them to be a part of your service during the gap week to share something new with your students.

Do you have any other ideas for how to make the gap week work in your student ministry? We’d love to hear them! Share a few with us to help make ministry happen for other churches during the curriculum gap week.