Pray for 2 Youth: Day 23 of the Pray-May Challenge

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.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

I’d also suggest you read James Emery White’s latest book Generation Z. (And you can catch his mind-blowing insight, again with Carey Nieuwhof, here.)

What are you listening to? My Fave 5 Podcasts

Podcasts are one of the ways I’m always learning.  They are free and I enjoy them while driving, working in my barn or walk the country. Here are five regularly updated podcasts that I never miss. Some are ministry specific, others with more broad appeal. All are valuable.

My Fave 5

  1. The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast.  Carey Nieuwhof (pronounced “new-hoff”) is the lead pastor of Connexus Church, a North Point Ministries strategic partner. CN_Podcast_New_Logo_Midsize1He is an influential leader and blogger from Ontario, regularly supporting the Orange Tour.  I find Carey consistently helpful to me as I seek to pastor a church that reaches out to unchurched people. In his weekly podcast, Carey interviews the best of the best, including well-known folks like Andy Stanley and Jon Acuff as well as lesser known leaders doing kingdom work in terrific ways. Carey’s insights, whether on his blog, interviews or books, are challenging and clarifying for me.  (Check out out his newest book, Lasting Impact, here.) I never miss an episode.
  2. The UnSeminary Podcast. Rich Birch, a Canadian leading in a New Jersey church,Rich_Birch hosts this punchy, weekly podcast, all about “the stuff you wished they taught in seminary.” Rich focuses on practical ministry helps for leaders. He is generous, offering many free resources on his UnSeminary blog, as well as a more in-depth membership program. Interviewing ministry leaders across a variety of churches and ministries, Rich podcasts weekly and keeps it pretty short, usually between 20-30 minutes. The topics range from social media and discipleship to Christmas Eve services and fundraising. Valuable listening, every time.
  3. Under the Influence, with Terry O’Reilly, is the most enjoyable podcast I follow. A consummate story-teller, Terry draws together themes from the marketing and advertising world that have much broader cultural implications.  My boys and I love Under the Influence, and stories Terry’s shared are retold and related to other areas of our lives on a regular basis. You may think “I’m not that interested in marketing” but you owe it to yourself to listen to a few episodes anyway. I think you’ll change your mind after you’ve had a taste. Terry and his team have presented podcasts on “ambush marketing” featuring an athlete who used his contact lenses to promote a product, to “the internet of things”, looking at how Terry Onew technology is being used to track usage and data. You’ll hear amazing stories, from Bonny and Clyde to Baywatch to the secret of Mick Jagger’s successful voice and the surprising rise of button-fly Levi’s. Under the Influence is usually only produced for part of the year, with short episodes around 25 minutes long. If you haven’t listened to this podcast, you must try it out!
  4. Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast. Andy Stanley is one of our top leaders, consistently and faithfully leading his 1ANDY_STANLEY_LEADERSHIP_PODCASTchurch to reach unchurched people for Jesus. I listen to his preaching for personal discipleship and to hone my preaching craft, but I listen to his short, monthly leadership podcasts to develop as a leader. Hosted by Lane Jones, Andy Stanley, along with occasional guests, focus on key leadership practices such as showing gratitude, leading through change and delegation.  Though his immediate context is the local church (and a big one!), they intentionally broaden the application of their podcast to any leadership context, from ministry to business. I’ve listened to every one, and I’ve learned and grown through the insights I’ve gained. If you are leader, you’ll grow from listening to them, too.
  5. Hardcore History, with Dan Carlin. hardcore-history-43-wrath-of-the-khans-by-dan-carlinWhat can I say about Carlin’s podcasts? Epic long, and deeply, fantastically worth it .(And I mean, EPIC long. Some are 3-4 hours, in a series of five. Yes, that’s right, 16-18 hours . . .).  Dan is such a gripping, passionate, insightful storyteller that the hours fly by. His series The Wrath of the Khans tramples you into the dirt of the Mongolian steppes. Blueprint for Armageddon takes you into the trenches of World War 1 and leaves you bleeding and shell-shocked. Dan takes months to produce a single episode, and it shows. Even though he constantly reminds his listeners that he’s “not a historian, just a fan” (by which I think he means that he does not have a PhD in history), Dan reads deeply and broadly, amassing sources and leading us through diverse opinions to offer a compelling narrative. Worth. Every. Epic. Minute.

There you go–my fav 5 podcasts. I do listen to audio books and I regularly ingest Scripture through audio, especially portions of the Bible through which I am currently preaching or teaching (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to the book of Revelation over the last year). I do have other podcasts or preaching that I listen to regularly, but these five seem to always rise to the top of my playlist. If you are willing to try one, you might find they keep resurfacing for you as well.  I hope you do.

What podcasts do you enjoy listening to?