Giving youth pastors the tools they need to make and shape disciples.

Youth Ministry Revival Requires Relentlessly Poking The Fire

This is my ninth, and final, post in my series 9 WaysTo Dynamically Revive Your Youth Ministry. You can click here to start at the beginning.

When I give you ideas and tactics for reviving your youth ministry, I make some assumptions.

I assume you are praying. I assume you are taking care of your own soul, I assume you are passionate about what you do. I don’t think these are careless assumptions. These are, or should be, core beliefs for someone in our position.

If all the above is happening (not perfectly all them) and heading in the right direction, then our role is to poke the fires.

This is also called stoking the fire. By definition, stoking the fire means to poke a fire and fuel it so that it burns higher. In the case of a camp fire we move the wood around so that oxygen and can get in and we add wood when the fire gets low.

These are all tangible effort. If we are praying then God is listening. What Neds to be done is the work. Look at Elijah,

Elijah took twelve stones according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, “Israel shall be your name.” So with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD, and he made a trench around the altar, large enough to hold two measures of seed. Then he arranged the wood and cut the ox in pieces and laid it on the wood.        I Kings 18: 31-33

Like Eliajah, we have to build the altar, lay the stones, get the wood, cut up the sacrifice. If Elijah does not of this, God does not answer by fire. This is not about working harder, longer hours; this about making preparations for God to answer our call.

Elijah dug trenches because he was one upping the prophets of Baal. Their God did not answer at all. Elijah essentially said, “Hold my beer”. He embarrassed the prophets of Baal by adding water to the sacrifice. Not only would God anger by fire, but he can even set a wet sacrifice aflame.

I don’t think we should be so brazen as to our water over our sacrifice. The wood in many youth groups are already wet making it hard to start a fire at all. Our kids are soaked with the world and water logged with cares and worries.

So, how do we poke the fires?

First, watch for the flicker.

It’s hard, sometimes, to get youth genuinely excited about the things of God, but I always watch for the flicker. I feel like I am trying to start a fire in a hurricane and my match keeps going out. I have to remind myself, It’s God’s job to answer by fire, not me. I watch for the spark and the flicker.

So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. I Corinthians 3:7

We build, we prepare, God brings the fire.

Next, add a log to the fire 

When I do see the flicker, I hurry and grab some kindling, not a big log. I don’t throw a ton of responsibility on a kid the minute they sense the Holy Spirit working in them. I take small steps, twig by twig I feed the flame.

I find out what they are good at and then try to match it with something in our youth ministry. If I cannot find a place for them to serve I create a place for them to serve no matter what they can do. The flame builds a little hire.

Finally, poke it here and there

I watch there fire closely. I watch for the winds of doubt and the flood discouragement that may try to extinguish the flame of faith. I poke the fire with relationship, with encouragement, with affirmation, and with motivation.

If there is more than one flicker I band those logs together so they feed off one another. I poke the fire even more making sure there is room to breath and experience God. Then, I work and I wait to see what happens next.

Like fire building, reviving a youth ministry is a slow process. The fire may never get as hot or as high as we like it, but we should always be grateful their is a fire at all.

I hope you enjoyed the series, and if you did, leave a comment. Be sure to sign up for the Youth Ministry Round Up newsletter to receive more ideas, resources, and strategies.

If you need help revitalizing your youth ministry, be sure to check out my coaching program Ministry Minded.

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