The close of Summer is a busy time for youth leaders. A whole host of questions are clamoring for your attention. What will I teach? What special events should I build into the ministry calendar this year? Do I have enough adult volunteers lined up? How much pizza should I order?
All good, important questions.
But as you seek to build a thriving Gospel Advancing Ministry in the midst of your practical planning and programming, it’s essential that you keep your end goal in mind—making disciples who make disciples. Running every decision you make through a disciple-making filter can help you work smarter, as opposed to just working harder. As you tackle each planning or programming decision, ask yourself this question: How will this help my students know God and make Him known?
Is the Book of Acts Relevant to Youth Ministry Today?
The explosive growth of the early church in the book of Acts provides clues and cues that can help you prioritize the right things in your ministry. In fact, Acts is a crash course in how to build a Gospel Advancing Ministry! It’s a blueprint for what it looks like to make disciples who make disciples.
And that blueprint makes it clear that building a Gospel Advancing Youth Ministry is about much, much more than simply getting your teenager to share the gospel with their peers. When you read through Acts, evangelism was front and center, but the priority of evangelism wasn’t flying solo. The gospel-sharing efforts of the early followers of Jesus sprang out of a context of believers who loved God and loved others. Prayer was a huge emphasis, and so was a commitment to Scripture. Converts were not just made, disciples were multiplied. These priorities, plus a few others, became the building blocks that formed the foundation of an ongoing advancement of the good news.
Prioritizing the 7 Values of a Gospel Advancing Ministry
At Dare 2 Share, we call these Acts-based Gospel Advancing priorities the “7 Values.” These seven key values fueled the vibrancy, exponential growth and spiritual depth of the early church. And because these values are timeless truths from Scripture, folding these same 7 Values into your youth ministry today will help you stay focused on the things that count.
So if you want to work smarter—and not just harder—and you want your ministry to experience the transformation you’ve been longing to see—this is the Mobilize series for you! Across the coming issues, we’ll be unpacking each of these 7 Values and giving you practical ideas to help you apply these timeless principles in your ministry. This week, let’s take a closer look at Value #1.
Value #1: Intercessory Prayer
“They all joined together constantly in prayer….” (Acts 1:14).
Prayer is the first thing the disciples did after Jesus ascended. They met with Him in the heavenlies through prayer. This snapshot of their commitment to pray constantly should demonstrate to us that we too need to pray fervently and consistently.
We must pray. We must pray for our students and their lost friends. We must pray for their schools. We must pray for our student ministries.
Why? Because apart from Him we can do nothing of lasting value (John 15:5). So if we want to work smarter, it only makes sense to start by amping our prayer lives!
Developing a Prayer Rhythm that Works for You
Intercessory prayer doesn’t have to be complicated, especially as you’re starting out. Keep it simple, as you find a prayer rhythm that works for you.
Try This! ❯
Memorize Charles Spurgeon’s wise words: “True prayer is measured by weight, not by length,” and build an intercessory prayer strategy into your schedule.
Here are a few creative ideas to help you become increasingly intentional about praying for your students. Or feel free to use your own. Just remember Charles Spurgeon’s wise words: “True prayer is measured by weight, not by length.”
- Do you have a youth group contact list on your phone? Pray through the list on a regular basis.
- Put a photo wall up in your office and pray through the faces.
- Write your students’ names on note cards, then go for a walk each day and talk to God about them.
- Set up a daily appointment on your calendar that’s blocked off to connect with God about your students, their unreached friends, your weekly program, annual calendar and leadership team.
- Keep a prayer journal.
- If you need help being accountable, find a prayer partner and pray together for your students and ministry—in person or over the phone on a regular basis.
- Pray through selected Psalms for your students—that their hearts will increasingly hunger and thirst after God:
- Psalm 27: Pray that they would seek the Lord as their “One Thing” and share Him with others.
- Psalm 42: In trouble or joy, pray they would thirst deeply for the Living God and share His Living Water with their friends who need Jesus.
- Psalm 63: Pray they would grasp the deep truth that God’s love is better than life itself, and that this truth would be the driving force in their lives.
- Psalm 119: Pray they would embrace God’s principles for the “good life” and advance His Kingdom everywhere they go.
- Pray for one or two students per day. As you pray, text them a Bible verse and some personal encouragements.
Pick one idea and try it out. Change it up periodically to keep it fresh and authentic. Purposeful, regular intercessory prayer will empower your ministry efforts for Gospel Advancement like nothing else! Prayer will move the hand of God on behalf of your students and your ministry. It will keep you dependent on Him, strengthen your faith muscles and produce results that can only be explained by divine intervention.
When prayer becomes the engine, and not the caboose of your youth ministry efforts, you can be confident that you are working smarter, and not just harder!When prayer becomes the engine, and not the caboose of your youth ministry efforts, you can be confident that you are working smarter, and not just harder! Click To Tweet