As a youth minister, I usually have one or two activities each month. I am usually good at planning great events. I make sure that each event has a purpose (evangelism, equipping, encouraging). I work hard at doing good things for the right reason.
Unfortunately, I sometimes miss the most important aspect — inviting God into the planning, action, and follow up of my event planning. Sure, I’ll pray that events go well, I’ll pray during them (especially lockins! You need prayer during lockins!) And occasionally I pray afterwards, usually when things go wrong and I am mad at God for letting all MY great planning go to waste.
From talking with youth ministers that I know, this is a common problem. Its nothing malicious or devious, its just that we…forget. We get so caught up in our great plans, our great devices, that we forget to check if this is on God’s agenda. So when things go right, we did a great job. When things go wrong, God messed up. Really? I don’t think so…
Here is how I believe we should approach praying for our events and activities -
1. Preplanning — Event planning often goes back 6 months to a year. Before you even sit down to plan your calendar, you should kneel down and ask God for guidance on what He wants HIS youth ministry to be doing in the next year. As you pray, reflect on the students you have, pray for them and ask that God gives you the wisdom on how to minister to that student. Think about the students in your community, and pray that what you do will reach them this year. As you think through the calendar, pray about each individual event, asking God to bless it and do more than you can even imagine. Finally, when you’re done, pray again over the whole year (or six months or three months) and ask God to work throughout this year in you, your ministry, and your students.
2. Preparation – Sometimes events are quick to get ready for. Sometimes they take hours and hours of time and energy. As we get ready for events, the first action we should do is pray for the event. Pray over the steps of preparation. Gather together with your leaders (students and/or adults) and pray for it. Some events like a trip to Kings Island or Laser Tag won’t require tons of prayer. But don’t neglect the power of the “fun event” because those times of relationship building are often more valuable than a big evangelistic outreach. Ask God that your students will be open to talk with and that your words will reach them in some way.
3. During an event – If you don’t have a prayer team, I encourage you to recruit 3 or 4 adults (or more if you have them!) to pray for your teens. Give them a list of stuff to pray for during an event. BE SPECIFIC! Don’t just say, “Pray for life change”. If you know a student is struggling, say, “Pray that Bobby will give up his drug habit” or “Pray that Suzie will overcome her eating disorder.” I would be careful of giving out names in certain situations, for obvious reasons. After all, God knows who those students are. But we need to be praying for specifics, not just generalities.
4. Following an event – Do you pray after an event? Its sometimes weeks or months later that something might hit a student, so we need to be following up in prayer that what went on will positively affect a teen.
I wish I could say I was faithful in doing all these things all the time. I am striving to do all these, but its hard moving from self-reliance to God-reliance, even in ministry. Yet I know that if you do these things your ministry will be blessed, as will you.
What do you do to invite God into your ministry events?
Bill Nance blogs at http://billnance.org.