It's that time of year where Alice Cooper weeps (school is no longer out for the summer), parents rejoice and teenagers have to start getting up early again.
Back to school is back with a vengeance and everyone, especially youth leaders, have been scrambling! Programs are being perfected! Curriculum is being purchased! Adults are being recruited!
But, even in the midst of all the Fall kickoff mayhem, back-to-school can be a great time to get back to the basics of youth ministry. These basics are rooted in Scripture and absolutely necessary for true spiritual transformation.
With this as a backdrop, here are 5 surprisingly simple ways to make a gigantic spiritual impact on your teens this school year:
Basic #1: Cover them in prayer.
"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassadorin chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should." Ephesians 6:18-20
Never underestimate the power of God unleashed through prayer. And, yes, I know that prayer takes time. It will require you and your team to spend precious minutes (normally spent planning) interceding for your teenagers before God. But there is never a wasted moment in genuine prayer.
When you and your leaders pray for the teenagers God has loaned you to lead, you are bringing the entire power of the Trinity to bear on the challenges your teenagers face. You are breaking down spiritual strongholds and building a lighthouse of faith in their souls with divine brick and mortar.
When you pray for them you are modeling Jesus to your teenagers. Jesus prayed so well and so often for his disciples they finally asked him to teach them to pray (Luke 11:1-13.) What if we sought to pray for our teenagers with the same intensity and consistency as Jesus? We need to!
Pray for them during the week. Pray for them in your team meetings. Pray for them when you are with them individually. Pray for them when you are all in youth group together.
If we could see into the spiritual realm to see what teenagers are really up against we would run to our prayer closets! If we could understand the unthinkable power of God unleashed through prayer we would stay in our prayer closets as long as possible...just like Jesus!
If you want to make this entire concept a church wide thrust check out my good friend Tony Souder's Pray for Me Campaign. His materials will help you recruit the adults of your church to intercede for the teenagers in your youth group in a powerful way.
Basic #2: Immerse them in the Word.
"In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear." 2 Timothy 4:1-3
One of your God-given job descriptions is to "preach the word." Why? Because false teachers are surrounding your teenagers and whispering lies into their souls. These lies often come in the form of Snaps or Instas that they relentlessly consume. Some come from school teachers, some from friends and others from Hollywood. But our teenagers are under a relentless attack from the evil one and the false teachers he has deployed to deceive them come in all shapes and sizes.
So we must preach the Word to them. We must do it at all times ("in season and out of season") and in all ways ("correct, rebuke, encourage") and with two distinctives ("great patience and careful instruction.")
Teenagers today are grappling with all sorts of issues (self-worth, gender identity, LGBTQ issues, self-harming, suicidal thoughts, depression, stress, etc.) God's Word holds all of the answers to their many questions so we must exegete it and explain it.
This means being willing to kick over the tough topics bucket in our youth group meetings and allow God's Word to help mop up. This may mean we need to take a second glance on what and how we are teaching our teenagers.
We must ask the tough question of whether or not the super fun and fast-paced curriculums we tend to teach to teenagers today can stop the slow-motion train wreck that is happening before us. According to Barna Research in the latest Generation Z study, today's teenagers are the first post Christian generation in the history of the United States.
Are you teaching God's Word in a way that unleashes it's full power to change young lives? Are you spending enough time really unpacking it and tying it's truths into the current raw reality your teenagers are living in today?
Basic #3: Call them to a cause.
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8
Jesus called his disciples to a life-long mission trip that would take place across the street (Jerusalem), across the tracks (Samaria) and across the world ("ends of the earth.") The story of the church in the book of Acts is the story of Jesus calling them to a cause, to the cause of being his witnesses to a lost and dying world.
The baton of his cause has been handed down from generation to generation and it now lies firmly in our hands as believers. For our teenagers that means that they too have a Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. They are called to the ends of the earth as witnesses for the Lord Jesus Christ.
What if we called our teenagers during this "back to school" season to get back to the basics of sharing the message of Jesus to their classmates, teammates and friends?
I encourage you to take your teenagers to everyschool.com and adopt their schools for Christ. Have them check out the many resources on this website to accomplish the most important cause in the history of humanity...making and multiplying disciples!
Basic #4: Surround them with a tribe.
"These were the chiefs of David’s mighty warriors—they, together with all Israel, gave his kingship strong support to extend it over the whole land, as the Lord had promised— this is the list of David’s mighty warriors...." 1 Chronicles 11:10,11
I love the story of David and his mighty warriors! Your teenagers need mighty spiritual warriors around them to help them accomplish their God-given cause! They need friends they go to youth group with and friends they go to school with who will help give "strong support" of their mission of expanding the kingdom of God over their whole school!
Someone once said that a teenager is the spiritual equivalent of their five closest friends. So, if we want our teenagers to grow spiritually, we must constantly bang the drum of a Godly tribe they can hang with on a regular basis. We must challenge our teenagers to find true and Biblical community in youth group, at school and online.
It is this brand of teenager who will become the mighty warriors that surround them, help them grow spiritually and enable them to gospelize their network of peers in powerful ways.
Basic #5: Inspire them with a movement!
"After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly." Acts 4:31
Events can lead to movements.
This is exactly what happened in the book of Acts. In Acts 2 the event we know as The Day of Pentecost triggered a spiritual movement that eventually saturated Jerusalem and beyond.
A mini-version of this happened again in Acts 4:31 when God literally shook the building the early believers were praying in together. The building was rocked by the power of prayer. The believers were rocked by the power of the Spirit. Then the city was rocked by the power of the Gospel.
What if that were to happen again today? It's our prayer at Dare 2 Share that God would once again rock our buildings, our teenagers and our cities with the Gospel! That's why we are all geared up for Dare 2 Share Live on October 13th! On this one day it is our prayer that tens of thousands of teenagers will unite together in one of 97 satellite sites across the nation to pray together, get a vision for our communities together and to get trained together to share the good news of Jesus from coast to coast all at the exact same time!
Our key passage for that day is Acts 4:31 and our hashtag is #RockYourCity! Pray with us that God will rock our cities once again and that he will do it through a generation of teenagers! Go to dare2sharelive.org to get your tickets and join us in praying at 10:13 everyday for revival to strike on October 13th!
Want to make a gigantic spiritual impact on your teens this school year? Cover them in prayer, immerse them in the Word, call them to a cause, surround them with a tribe and inspire them with a movement!