Here’s the stark truth: many youth, though they grew up in vibrant Christian churches, drop church and stop following Jesus after graduating high school. We are deeply concerned about this trend.
Many capable people are asking why, and are digging into this alarming drop-off. James Penner, a former colleague of mine from IVCF, has conducted a Canada-wide study on the relationship of Canadian youth to church in the ground-breaking study Hemorrhaging Faith. Kara Powell, from the Fuller Youth Institute, is leading the way on how churches and families can help faith to become more “sticky” in the lives of our youth, and she identifies six crucial elements in this article, which then morphed into her important book Sticky Faith, co-authored with Chap Clark.
Today I ask you to pray for youth. In particular, I would ask you to identify and pray for two teenagers outside of your immediate family.
- After identifying two youth by name, would you pray a blessing upon them? Pray that they would experience God’s favour and grace in their lives–family, church, work, school, and relationships. Pray as the Spirit leads you.
- Kara Powell mentions 6 key components to a faith that sticks. One crucial element is that youth are connected to at least five caring adults. Would you pray for those connections? Pray that these youth would have caring adults in their lives–adults who will talk to them about their own faith journey, encouraging them to express their doubts and sharing with them about the grace of Jesus which is greater than any failure. Pray that they will have vibrant, Christian adults who will talk to them about life following Jesus after high school. Pray, pray, pray for these connections, and as you do, be open to how the Holy Spirit may be inviting you to be one of those caring adults.
- Take a prayer of Paul’s, as we outlined in Day 2 of our prayer challenge, and pray this prayer over the lives of these youth. Pray that the eyes of their hearts would be enlightened, that they would know how deep and high and wide and long Jesus’ love is for them, and that they would be drawn more deeply into his life.
Thank you for praying. As the father of two teenage boys and the pastor of a church with many more teenagers, my heart longs for each one to become fully committed followers of Jesus who experience God’s life-changing love and purpose for a lifetime.
Our youth matter. Let’s pray, and let’s keep on praying. I challenge you to post the names of these two youth you’ve prayed for today, and keep praying for them. Pray for them for a month, and then ask: What more, Lord? How can I encourage this young man or woman in their faith? How can I be part of how you will grow them up spiritually strong? And keep praying!!
My prayer today: Father, we love our youth, and ask that you would pour out your Holy Spirit on them today. We ask that you would create in them a deep longing for you, and a tenacity to follow Jesus whole-heartedly. And give us your vision for them. Inspire us and challenge us in how we are part of the answer to our own prayers. Move us into ministry, as we become part of the caring team of adults who support and mentor and cheer and listen to these youth of yours. For the sake of your people, we pray. Amen.
Want to know more?
Going further than the links I’ve already provided above, you could also listen to two different conversations with Kara Powell on the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast. Super encouraging and inspiring.