If you are a football fan, at some time you have probably heard some stories about the legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi. One of my favorite stories told is how he would pick up a football, hold it up and say to his professional athletes who had been playing football for years, “Men, this is a football.” He would go on to stress the fundamentals of the game and the importance of never forgetting them.
If you have been in youth ministry for a few years, you know that the fundamental for the CHOG national youth ministry for the last decade has been “to be a catalyst to raise up a new generation of Christ-centered leaders”—all of us together helping students passionately pursue and obey God, sacrificially serve others, intentionally share Christ, and experience Christian community.
Our strategy has been simple: REACH—DISCIPLE—EMPOWER.
Every two years the youth ministry and youth network teams take one of these strategy areas and focus concentrated effort to move to the next level. It doesn’t mean we ignore the other areas, but we have all hands on deck to help strengthen the area in focus.
We have just completed two years of focus on DISCIPLE and worked in the areas of discipleship, concentrating on the
Emerging Leaders 101.com, and providing the ELP-CD, the thirty-day devotional, and the overall direction for
Focus 40 youth devotional, and a future “What we believe” for students.
We are transitioning our focus to the
EMPOWER strategy and look forward to what God is going to do over the next two years.
In this issue, we want to start with one of our core foundational values: We value prayer. Prayer is essential to unleashing God’s power. Just as Coach Lombardi said, “This is a football.” Let’s remember our core value: prayer is our foundation.
Leader of Youth and Family Ministries
Andy can be reached at
^ Top of Page
Becoming a Praying Ministry
If we want to see life change in the lives of students, we must be a praying ministry. We are all working with students who are facing incredible and difficult life circumstances. So many students are up against a mountain in life that is impossible to climb, and nothing they have tried has caused the mountain to move. Check out God’s idea concerning faith and prayer.
After Jesus caused the fig tree to wither and his disciples were walking by the tree, this is what Jesus said: “Have faith in God…I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go throw yourself into the sea’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:22–24
We must pray. Being a praying ministry is critical. We must empower our students and leaders to pray. Here are a few ideas:
Empower a student and adult leader in your group to organize and lead your youth ministry prayer efforts and strategy.
Create a prayer partner ministry that matches your students and leaders up with a praying adult in your church. Specifically praying for a student on a trip is one idea.
Teach and empower your ministry to do the 360 evangelism strategy, praying for specific friends each day. Visit
www.chogy.org/360-revolution for more information.
Have a running list of prayer requests within your adult and student leadership teams.
Celebrate answered prayer as a team and as a ministry. Tell the stories.
When we pray and believe, mountains move.
Praying in faith makes a life-changing difference.
Be a ministry that empowers and promotes prayer.
For more information on the Empower focus of youth ministry, visit
Reeder is a member of the Youth Ministry Team. He serves as the senior-high youth pastor at Madison Park Church of God in Anderson, Indiana. He can be reached at
^ Top of Page
Prayer Makes a Difference
Spread the Word is having an impact in more than thirty countries around the world, and the
Youth Network Team of the Church of God has taken several opportunities to visit various locations to see STW funds in action. Time and time again, we hear stories of how prayers have been answered. A suicidal father in Paraguay prayed for help and found it through a Christian radio station sponsored by Spread the Word. A pastor in Bangladesh prayed for a more efficient way to reach rural areas with the gospel and received a motorcycle to help him expand his ministry for the kingdom. A church plant in Brazil prayed for sound equipment to use for evangelism in their community and received the items needed to aid them in their ministry. God is answering prayer around the world through Spread the Word resources.
In addition to the impact made by the resources given, the teams going to witness these things have experienced powerful times of prayer with the people in these places. In Russia, a spontaneous concert of prayer was held at the site of the future youth café in Chelyabinsk. In Uganda, team members visited the homes of AIDS patients and prayed over them and their families. In Paraguay, more than half of the local Church of God pastors received visits from the STW team for times of prayer and encouragement.
The church is alive and well, and God’s Spirit is at work, whether prayers are spoken in person or from across the globe. To read testimonies and stories about how STW and prayer are making an impact, go to
click on Spread the Word.
Byrd is a member of the Youth Ministry Team and the youth pastor at
South Memorial Drive Church of God in New Castle, Indiana. She can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. She helps
facilitate communication between STW and those on the field.
^ Top of Page
What do you do when your job is to draw students closer to Jesus, but you don’t feel close to Jesus?
Fake it, and teach what you are not living.
Rely on your own ability while lacking God’s power.
Just go through the motions.
Give up and quit.
All of the above.
If you have been in youth ministry for any length of time, you have probably resorted to “All of the above” at different times in your life. I know I have done most of the above. Isn’t it sad when someone gives up on their calling and quits? Why do some people burn up and fizzle out? More importantly, how do others continue to experience vibrant, life-giving, effective ministries that last for long periods of time?
The answer lies in our level of intimacy with God.
For years I limped along on a mediocre walk with God. No one really noticed my mediocrity. I was doing good things. There was fruit from my efforts. I was not a bad person. Most would say that I was a productive pastor living a great life for God. But I knew that my journey with God was a series of mountain-top moments from which I always seemed to slip back to an acceptable plateau. Mediocre.
This all changed when my wife, Candi, and I carved out eight days for spiritual renewal at a retreat center in the Colorado Rockies. For the first time in years I was on a retreat that someone else planned, and the focus was my own spiritual health. The truth that I had been teaching others for so long began to find a home in my head and heart. My Abba Father loves me and desires to be with me. His main goal for me has nothing to do with my level of production, but rather with the depth of our intimacy. I came away from that retreat more determined than ever to do whatever it takes to cling to intimacy with God.
What drives you? What do you live for? What if we were to make intimacy with God our main goal in life? What if everything else took second place to that? Hey, it’s impossible to stay on top of the mountain with God all the time, but we can choose a course that leads to a life that is much better than mediocre!
is a Youth Ministry Team member
and the youth pastor at First Church of God in St. Joseph Michigan. He
can be reached at email@example.com.
^ Top of Page
A few years ago, I was sitting in my truck praying and asking God for direction in a specific area of my life. As I finished praying, I started the engine and turned on the radio. I had just asked the Creator of the universe to speak to me, but I wasn’t willing to listen. When he answered, I was going to make him compete with a sports-radio talk-show host.
How is your prayer life? Take a moment and reread that question and think before you answer it so quickly. How is your prayer life? Prayer is one of the greatest gifts we have as Christ-followers, and yet if we were to be honest, it is probably an area that all of us could improve upon. I have learned that one of the keys to a vibrant prayer life is to keep your prayers relational rather than just one more thing to check off your daily list of things that you do in order to be a good Christian.
Having a check-list of prayers isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially considering how busy our lives can become as we strive to balance family and ministry, but the danger comes when we focus more on completing the task of prayer rather than spending time in dialogue with our loving heavenly Father. When we allow our prayers to be limited to a checklist, our prayer life can easily become a monologue with us doing all the talking. If we intentionally focus on having a relational prayer life, we are more likely to have a dialogue, which involves us talking and listening.
As we focus specifically on
EMPOWER for the next two years, would you accept a challenge—a challenge to EMPOWER your prayer life, a challenge to spend more time in prayerful dialogue with your Creator?
Recommended Books on Prayer
The Kneeling Christian, by An Unknown Christian
Rees Howells: Intercessor, by Norman Grubb
The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence
Experiencing Prayer with Jesus, by Henry and Norman Blackaby
My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers
Too Busy Not to Pray, by Bill Hybels
Prayer Coach: For All Who Want to Get off the Bench and onto the Praying Field, by James L. Nicodem
Prayer Apps for your Smart Phone
Pocket Prayer Pro ($1.99; free version available)
Prayer Notes ($0.99; free version available)
Prayer List (free)
Prayer Journal ($0.99)
Adam Rentas is a Youth Ministry Team member and the youth pastor at First Church of God in Vero Beach, Florida. He can be reached at
^ Top of Page