It’s a truth universally acknowledged that the typical youth group meeting (or church service, for that matter) dedicates more time to announcements than to prayer. What do you think might happen if you tried to change that?
Groans? Whining? Revolt…as in voting with their feet?
Try This! ❯
Gather your students into small school-based prayer clusters and give them five minutes to pray together for their friends who need Jesus.
Regularly folding prayer into your group programming can feel risky. But it’s a risk worth taking if you’re serious about increasingly becoming a Gospel Advancing Ministry!
You may be surprised by how willing your teenagers are to pray. Or not…in which case, they just don’t understand how powerful prayer is quite yet. Which is exactly why they need to see it done and practice it themselves! Remember Step 1 of our four essentials steps for teaching teenagers to pray? Giving them opportunities to see authentic prayer modeled well!
Just Do It
Weekly, creatively programmed times of intercessory prayer will help your students grow in their own personal prayer lives, AND it will increasingly shift your youth group focus off “what’s in for me?” and toward Kingdom impact and reaching teenagers who need Jesus.The typical youth group meeting dedicates more time to announcements than to prayer. Let’s change that! Click To Tweet
We’ve collected some of the best practices and creative prayer ideas from youth pastors all across the country. You can check them out on the Gospel Advancing website. But here are five specific, practical approaches you can try that we’ve seen gain a lot of traction among Gospel Advancing Youth Ministries.
- Incorporate a time of intercessory prayer into your worship time. During the singing, have a group of leaders available to pray individually with students who want prayer. We have seen this simple adjustment to the weekly program become such a huge draw for teenagers that they begin inviting their unreached friends, just so they can get prayer for a particular struggle or challenge in their personal lives.
- Pray in small groups by school. Gather your students into small school-based prayer clusters and give them five minutes to pray together each week for their friends who need Jesus. This weekly rhythm will help keep reaching out to their friends with the gospel on their radar. If possible, spread your student leaders around among these groups to help lead the way.
- Develop a Cause Circle wall. This can be as simple as putting up a whiteboard/chalkboard with THE Cause Circle drawn on it, where students can write the first names of their friends who need Jesus. Or you can get more sophisticated and draw a Cause Circle on a wall with some chalk paint and have students put their friends’ names on sticky notes on the wall. Incorporating a time of prayer into your weekly program around THE Cause Circle wall is a great way to encourage students to pray regularly for their friends. You could also get 100 free Life in 6 Words gospel-sharing books to put by your Cause Circle wall and have them available for students to take to school. These visually-engaging little books are great tools for helping your students initiate gospel conversations with their friends.
- Close your weekly meeting by praying for revival. The key is to get the whole group involved. If you are able to encourage your student leaders to pray first on behalf of their schools and friends, they will set the example for the rest of the students at youth group and you will be on your way to shifting the culture. Switch up the mechanics on a regular basis to keep it fresh by using prayer partners, school clusters, large group popcorn prayers, prayer circles, and so on.
- Gather your leaders for prayer before and after your weekly meeting. Admittedly, this one takes some guts and extra commitment! Place an expectation on your leadership team to arrive at youth group 30 minutes before the program starts so that you can pray for students by name and pray that the gospel would advance both in and through them. Then after youth group is over, take 10 minutes to debrief the night, address roadblocks and pray that your students would engage their friends in gospel conversations in the coming week.
Although prayer is a huge missing element in youth ministry programming today (and in the church at large), in the early church it was part of the regular meetings. Acts 2:42 reminds us: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” When believers spend time praying for others our Heavenly Father hears and acts! And when our teenagers get a taste of the power of God working in them and through them, it will reinforce how essential it is that they stay connected to God through prayer.