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  Winter 2013
  Vol. 18 • No. 1
Please photocopy or email  
to all your youth workers  

  Topic: Empower  

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 Intern Academy, Emerging Leaders 101.com, and providing the ELP-CD, the thirty-day devotional, and the overall direction for IYC2012, 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.

Andy StephensonAndy Stephenson PhD
Leader of Youth and Family Ministries
Andy can be reached at


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  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 NIV1984).

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 www.chogy.org.

 Eric ReederEric 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 ereeder@madisonparkchurch.org.

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  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 www.chogy.org and click on Spread the Word.

Tami ByrdTami 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 tami@smdcog.org. She helps facilitate communication between STW and those on the field.

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  More than Mediocre  

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!

Chris SpittersChris Spitters is a Youth Ministry Team member and the youth pastor at First Church of God in St. Joseph Michigan. He can be reached at spitters@myfirstchurch.com.

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  Can you hear me now?  

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
For iOS:
Pocket Prayer Pro ($1.99; free version available)
Prayer Notes ($0.99; free version available)

For Android:
Prayer List (free)
Prayer Journal ($0.99)

Mark ShanerAdam 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 adamr@fcog.com.

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Topic: Empower
Important Dates & Events
Becoming a Praying Ministry
Emerging Leaders 101
Register for IYC2014
Prayer Makes a Difference
More than Mediocre
Check Out Ultimate Adventure Remix
Thank you to Kyle Cooper
Can you hear me now?
Thank you to Michael Thigpen
Thank you to Austin Abney
God at Work Story


Global Gathering:
June 22–25, 2013
Anderson, IN


Logo: Global Gathering

Leadership Summit:
July 9–13, 2013
Oklahoma City, OK
MACU Campus

Logo: Leadership Summit

December 2013

July 5–8, 2014
Nashville, TN
Gaylord Opryland Hotel


   YMT Members
Tami Byrd Eric Reeder Chris Spitters Andy Stephenson Adam Rentas






Youth Network Team 

  Youth Network Team

            Harold Bradshaw (WY)
            Ryan Chaisson (AZ)
            Josh Deeter (AL)
            Mike Fackler (OK)
            Josh Boldman (FL)

      Brian Seidel (ID)
      R. W. Moody (TX)
      Adam Rentas (CA)
      Rob Ringwald (WV)
      Kim Schuessler (IN)



Click here for more iformation about Emerging Leaders 101

Check out www.emergingleaders101.com,


for information on U.S. and international internships

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Click here to register


2004 prices
for IYC2014—$95.
Yep, you saw it.
The first five hundred who register
by March 1, 2013, for IYC2014
will get that price.
Don't miss IYC2014.

Creating a moment
for life change


July 5–8, 2014
Nashville, TN

Register at

We know you probably don't have student names yet, so put the main leader's info in and for the other registrants just put TBA in the name section and then come back and edit it later. You must have names to us by December 12, 2013.

    Click here to get the IYC mobile app

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Check out the
Ultimate Adventure Remix series for helping
your students grow. Visit www.chogy.org/ultimate-adventure

Click here for ordering information

Click here for ordering information

Click here for ordering information

Click here for ordering information

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Thank you to Kyle Cooper

Kyle CooperWe are so thankful to Kyle and his service to the team since 2008. Kyle has been such an asset to the team and has helped us with devotionals and resources to help students grow. Kyle, thank you for serving and for all your years of service.

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Thank you to Michael Thigpen

Michael ThigpenWe are so thankful for Michael and his service to the YNT team since 2009. Michael will still be connected with us in a special role of helping move the vision of raising up a new generation of Christ-centered leaders forward. Thank you, Michael, for years of service to the YNT.

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Thank you to Austin Abney

Austin and Ashley AbneyWe are thankful to Austin for his service to the team. Austin is taking a church planter role in Wichita, Kansas. Please pray for Austin and his family as they take on this new endeavor. Thanks, Austin, for your service to youth ministry and the YNT.

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Mark your calendars.
Leadership Summit
July 9–13 2013,
on the campus of
Mid-America Christian University
in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
will be an incredible gathering
of young leaders from around
North America, coming together
to grow, serve, learn and listen
to what God has to say to them.
Don't miss it!

Check out

for more information.


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God at Work Story

Since middle school I’ve felt like God was calling me to sports ministry. Going into my sophomore year of high school, I attended Leadership Summit 2011. At Leadership Summit, I believe God spoke to me. What I heard is that he wanted to use me now, while I was still in high school, to start a sports ministry and didn’t want to wait until I graduated and was in college or afterwards. So God birthed something amazing that week, and just a few weeks later my youth leader Preston and I started a soccer ministry for the kids in the neighborhood around my church.

Every Monday, for an hour and a half, we played soccer with kids and shared Jesus’ love through our actions. We eventually started playing a wide variety of sports and games, and as we did that, more and more kids started to come. As more and more kids came, we were able to build more relationships and share Jesus’ love. As of this writing, ten to fifteen kids come every week and the majority now come to church.

As these neighborhood students have come and played games every week and experienced God’s love for them, they’ve realized that they want something more. Because of that realization, God has blessed me with the opportunity to give seven of them a Bible for the first time and lead five of them into a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ! These kids have such a desire to learn more about God and his plan for them, which is so inspiring and encouraging.

As you read this, I want to challenge you to obey God and follow his amazing plan for your life. He wants to use you in ways far greater than you can ever imagine, I know he’s already done things in my life far greater than I could have ever imagined, and all I’ve done is to be obedient. If you’re young and reading this, I want to challenge you to get out and love people now! Don’t wait or think you’re inadequate because you’re young; God wants to use you now, as well as later in your life. I think of God speaking through Paul as he writes to young Timothy. He says, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity” (1 Tim 4:12 NIV). So I challenge everyone to get out and love people with God’s love and not to be afraid to share the greatest thing you know, the gospel.

Austin Shaner

Austin Shaner
High School Student


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