The launch of the upcoming school year is just around the corner! Can you believe it? This means it’s time to consider practical steps you can take to motivate and mobilize your students to share their faith at the schools in the coming year! So, over the next several issues of energize, we’ll be exploring five specific keys to nurturing a faith-sharing focus in your youth ministry.
Let’s start by asking a very practical question: “What’s the first and most important thing I should do to nurture a faith-sharing focus in my youth ministry?”
The answer: Pray!
Key #1 – Pray! Pray! Pray!
This incredibly simple truth is surprisingly difficult to live out in the midst of doing ministry.
But there’s just no getting around it. The first step in building an outreach-focused youth ministry is to PRAY! Sure, you already know prayer is important. But you might be surprised how little influence prayer has on youth ministry in America.
Answer this question truthfully: How much time do you spend in prayer for your youth ministry, adult leaders, students and their friends who need to be introduced to Jesus? Be honest with yourself; are you satisfied with how much time you spend in prayer?
Many youth leaders work hard and love what they do, but often times we leave the prayer part out. Prayer needs to be the number one priority in our ministries. And we, as youth leaders, need to model this for our students, parents and volunteers.
Steps to Making Prayer a Higher Priority
Most Christians spend little to no time praying each week, perhaps because they don’t see the power that prayer has to change things. Yet, of all the things you might try when it comes to recalibrating your ministry to become more evangelism-focused, prayer will have the greatest impact. So I want to share some concrete steps you can take that will help you begin to put prayer as the top priority in your life and in your ministry:
- Take an inventory of your own prayer life. How are you doing? Are you modeling the commitment to prayer that you desire to see in your students?
- Do a Bible study on prayer during your personal devotional time. Here are a few passages to start with:
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him (1 John 5:14-15).
At the time of the sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “O, Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel…Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so that these people will know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again. Then fire from the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. When the people saw this they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord – He is God! The Lord – He is God! (1 Kings 18: 36-39).
Ask yourself these questions:
o Do I truly believe in the power of prayer and is it evident in how I pray?
o If I knew that whatever I asked for concerning my youth ministry would be given, what would I ask for?
o Start by asking – what have you got to lose? Consider keeping a prayer journal to record your prayers and God’s answers.
- Talk with the other adults involved in your youth ministry and discuss together what you can begin to do to make prayer the top priority in your ministry (i.e., plan a prayer strategy; find some prayer warriors; set aside time to gather as leaders for regular prayer).
- Determine how much/how often you want to pray for your students, and then build it into your schedule.
- Read some classic books on prayer such as E.M. Bounds’ The Classic Collection on Prayer or Andrew Murray’s With Christ in the School of Prayer.
As you begin to make prayer a higher priority, you’ll lay a strong foundation for your ministry efforts, and you’ll be better able to model and motivate your adult and student leaders to make prayer a priority in their ministry efforts, as well…more on that in the next issue of energize, when I’ll give you a practical, hands-on discussion guide on prayer to use with your leaders.