The Holy Spirit is the only one who can refresh, renew and revive His church. But he stands with matches ready to set your teens’ hearts on fire. It’s interesting to me that you never see the word “revival” in the New Testament, perhaps because it should be the normal Christian life.
Sadly, it is not.
Too often, dead-eyed Christian teenagers whose hearts are filled with apathy instead of fire fill our youth ministry 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 inside, we want to taze their cold hearts into beating hard and hot after God.
So, what is our role in seeing revival break out in the midst of the deadness? Can we do anything about it? The answer is a resounding “YES!!!” Here are five action steps you can take to unleash the force of revival in your youth ministry.
1. Pray with passion.
Intercessory prayer is not just the domain of little old ladies and those “crazy” intercessors we sometimes meet. It should be the standard operating practice of every believer.
Acts 4:31 gives a microrecipe 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 was shaken with the power of intercessory prayer, and then the city was shaken with the power of the gospel message.
Are you interceeding on behalf of your teenagers? Do you pray as a staff for them? Is intercessory prayer something you practice with your student leaders? Is prayer a big part of your youth ministry program, or do you use it as fairy dust to sprinkle on your meetings, but then depend on the latest, greatest curriculum to produce the real change?
The revival I’m witnessing unfold in power-packed pockets across the country is happening where the youth leaders are committed to intercessory prayer. They are looking to God to light that fire, not a strategy or a program or a method. And God is igniting their strategies in ways they never expected with results they could have never dreamed of.
Start taking prayer walks or shutting your door for 30 minutes a day or whatever you have to do to start making intercessory prayer a personal priority. Make prayer the first thing you do as a staff for your teenagers. Make time to pray for all the teenagers in your youth group and revival at their schools as part of your student leadership team meetings. Make intercessory prayer the engine of the train that drives your youth ministry efforts, not the caboose.
2. Identify and recruit the 10 percenters to join you.
“Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) 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
Look for the teenagers, adult leaders and fellow youth leaders who are excited about revival to join you. Too often, we waste a lot of energy trying to get every teenager on board with our vision. Go with the goers and pray for the others. Wasn’t this the strategy of Jesus? He ministered to the crowds, but poured three and a half years of his life into the high will/raw skill disciples. The result was that 11 out of 12 of them changed the world.
The parable of the Sower reinforces this principle in a powerful way. Some seeds we sow will land on hard hearts. Others will get choked out by worldliness. Still others will die due to lack of spiritual maturity. But those precious few seeds that land on good soil will produce 30, 60 or even 100x what was sown. The lesson? Go with the “growers” and pray for the others.
Take a look at your student leadership team and adult youth staff. Are they 10 percenters? Are they all in? If not, it might be time for a shake up. Once your 10 percenters get 100 percent on board with this vision, they’ll inevitably impact the rest of the group.