What Our Youth Really Needs.

I went to a youth event last night, so excited to see young people coming together for the glory of God.  While the band, primarily consisting of young people, led us in praise and worship, I let my gaze fall from the lyrics on the screen to the people filling the seats.  

Some were worshiping fearlessly, lifting their hands and swaying with eyes closed and voices proclaiming the goodness of God.  Some were clearly uncomfortable, shifting from one foot to the other as they tried to make sense of what exactly they had gotten themselves into.  Others were just simply there.  

It was a wonderful privilege to be among those kids, to look around and realize what a gift it was to feel the urgent, burning desire to just pray over them.

So I did.  While the music coursed through the sanctuary and voices rose to drown out my pleas, I bowed my head and began praying from the core of my being.  Over the youth that were there and the youth that weren't there, over the churches that had brought youth and the churches that didn't have any youth to bring.  

As a product of early morning Sunday School and countless youth services, I think we should recognize that this work is important.  What we're investing in the lives of children and teenagers right this very moment will linger long after they leave our presence.  

One of my beloved Sunday School teachers, Lucille, has impacted my life more than she will ever know.  She has shaped my faith and given me a wonderful example of praying without ceasing.  Although I see her only once or twice a year, her influence remains engraved in my heart.

That's the kind of influence we are capable of having.

It's a wild idea, a very intimidating concept.  I get that.  Nobody ever said youth ministry was for the weak.  It requires a lot of heart and sacrifice and humility.  It requires a lot of prayer and planting a bajillion seeds that we may not see come to fruition for decades.  This job is a tough job.  

But this job is an important job.

Maybe your youth group isn't very big right now.  Maybe you only have a faithful two or three that show up on a regular basis and you just can't seem to grow past that number.  Please hear me when I say this: your job is still important.  If God has given you a faithful two or three, show up for those faithful two or three.  Invest in them.  Mentor and disciple them.

So many get lost in the numbers.  If they only have a handful, they will dismiss the importance of that handful with, "What's the point?  This generation doesn't want anything to do with God."  And honestly?  That's just not cutting it anymore.  Until we can invest in the ones God has given us, what makes us think we can invest in the 100+ youth groups we're wanting?  

Is it about the size of our youth groups?  No.  Is it about skits or church camps or fundraisers?  No.  Youth ministry is about ministering to the youth.  That's the whole concept.  If your youth meeting has 60 kids, but you don't bother to teach any of them the truth, what is the purpose?  If teens can walk into the church, feeling lost and nameless and unloved, and leave feeling the exact same way, we have missed the point.

It only takes words to confess Christ on a Sunday morning.  It takes a true encounter with Jesus to confess Christ with our lives.  And if we aren't encouraging and teaching that, we have missed the point. 

Our youth doesn't need smoke and mirrors.  They don't need entertainment.  They need the life-changing Truth of Christ, to know His sacrifice, to experience His love.  They need sincere, true, honest relationships with Jesus.  They need a hunger for His Word and His Spirit.  They need a bone-deep passion for God.

The concerts will get them through the doors, but that won't keep them.  The lock-ins will get them through the doors, but that won't keep them.  The cookouts and camp outs will get them through the doors, but that won't keep them.  Only loving God will keep them.

This, my friend, is where our most important work begins.  We have got to pray our guts out for these young people.  Even when it is difficult, even when it seems like nothing is changing, even when they push us away and swear that they don't want us or our God, we have to pray for them until our knees bruise and our lips ache from the effort.  

Invest.  Mentor.  Disciple.  Love.  Teach.  Pray.

I'm not telling you to abandon the fun stuff.  You are dealing with kids, after all.  I'm not telling you to quit your outreach programs.  Those are so important for showing Christ to people who wouldn't normally look in His direction.

I'm telling you that these kids?  They don't want our coffee shops.  Although, let's be honest, those are really cool.  They don't want our cozy couches or comfortable bean bags.  Above all, they want and need our hearts to be hidden in Christ and invested in their lives.  They want us to know Jesus and they want us to know them.  

This is a tough job.  But, Church, this is an important job.  One that we can't afford to mishandle.
Every day this week, at 9:00 PM, I'm going to be praying for the youth in my life and the youth leaders that minister to them.  Will you join me?  Whether it is for five minutes or an hour and a half, God can move through the prayers of His people.  We can't lose this generation because we never bothered to fight for them.  Let's bring them before God and watch what amazing things He can do with their lives.    


  1. Wow! I'll join you in prayer. God is stirring our hearts for our youth and I'm excited to see what God's going to do.

  2. Amen. Youth need truth and authentic examples of walking with Christ. I am with you this week!

  3. Courtney, such a passionate plea! What a big heart you have. Every one of them matters. I'm seeing my job as a mom in a whole new light;) ty!