At some point, most youth leaders wonder how to revive a dying youth ministry. Or, if their program isn’t dying, it might need a huge dose of revival.
Only the Holy Spirit can refresh, renew and revive his church. But he stands with matches ready to set teens’ hearts ablaze. Interestingly, the word “revival” never appears in the New Testament. Perhaps that’s because it should be the normal Christian life!
Sadly, it’s not. Too often, dead-eyed Christian teenagers whose hearts are filled with apathy instead of fire fill our meetings. With rolling eyes and heavy sighs, many of them endure the lessons and enjoy the games. They keep showing up, so we keep juggling flaming poodles (so to speak) to keep their attention. But down deep we want to zap their cold hearts into beating hard after God. That’s why you need to know how to revive a dying youth ministry.
So what’s our role in seeing revival break out amid deadness? Can we do anything about it? The answer is a resounding “YES!”
5 Steps: How to Revive a Dying Youth Ministry
Take these 5 action steps to unleash the force of revival.
1. Pray with passion.
Intercession isn’t just the domain of old ladies and “crazy” intercessors we sometimes meet. It should be standard operating practice for every believer.
Acts 4:31 gives a micro recipe for revival. “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and went out and spoke the Word of God boldly.” The building shook with the power of intercessory prayer. Then the city shook with the power of the gospel message.
Are you interceding on behalf of teenagers? Do you pray for them as a staff? Do you practice intercessory prayer with student leaders? Is prayer a big part of your youth ministry? Or do you sprinkle it as fairy dust but then depend on the latest, greatest curriculum to produce real change?
The revival is happening where youth leaders are committed to intercessory prayer. They’re looking to God, not a strategy or program, to light that fire. And God is igniting their strategies in ways they never expected, with amazing results.
Start taking prayer walks or shutting your door for 30 minutes daily. Or do whatever you have to do to make intercessory prayer a priority. Make prayer for teens the first thing you do as a staff. During student leadership meetings, pray for all youth group members and for revival at schools. Make intercessory prayer the engine, not the caboose, of the train driving your efforts.
2. Identify and recruit the 10%ers to join you.
“Scientists at (RPI) Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have found that when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society.” Science Daily, July 26, 2011
Seek teenagers, volunteer and fellow youth leaders who are excited about revival to join you. We often waste energy trying to get every teenager on board with our vision. Go with the goers and pray for the others. Wasn’t this Jesus’ strategy? He ministered to the crowds but poured 3 1/2 years of his life into the high-will/raw- skill disciples. The result was that 11 out of 12 changed the world.
The parable of the Sower reinforces this principle powerfully. Some seeds we sow land on hard hearts. Others are choked out by worldliness. Still others die due to lack of spiritual maturity. But those precious few seeds that land on good soil will produce 30, 60 or even 100 times what was sown. The application for how to revive a dying youth ministry? Go with the “growers” and pray for the others.
Look at your student leadership team and adult staff. Are they 10%ers? Are they all in? If not, it might be time for a shakeup. Once your 10%ers get 100% on board with this vision, they’ll inevitably impact the others.