Expecting the Holy Spirit to show up at Youth Group

Confession: I’m sometimes very judgmental on Social Media.

When you post a picture of a Bible, a journal, and a cup of coffee and say “LOVE this time of my day” I write it off as fake.

When you post a picture of a Bible verse from youversion, I wonder if you only read the Bible to find a verse to post.

And when you post a picture of students with their hands up in worship and say “WOW WOW WOW the HOLY SPIRIT CAME” I wonder if he really did?

I’ve been wrestling a lot with the expectancy for the Holy Spirit to move at Youth Group. As a Youth Pastor, I’m the spiritual leader of our ministry. As a Father, I’m the spiritual leader of my son. As a Husband, I’m the spiritual leader of my wife and our family. I’ve been wrestling with the idea that the extent of expectancy I have for the Spirit to move in my ministry, my family is proportional to what he does.

Now hear what I’m saying, because as I read that, it seems like it could give the wrong impression. I believe the Spirit of the Lord moves when and how he wants, and no human can tell the Spirit what he can and can’t do.

But I wonder if there are things I do that limit the Power of the Spirit. I wonder if there’s things in my life that cut out room for the Spirit to be at work in my life as much as he could be.

I believe there are a number of ways we can and do limit the work of the Spirit, and I want to get through these things in my ministry. The simple Truth is that the Spirit of the Lord is present in our Youth Groups every week, but too often we get complacent with where we are, and that this complacency crushes our expectancy.

The first way we grow complacent is when we become familiar with what He has already done. If we’ve seen the Spirit work before, we expect him to move in that same way. Many of us have had an amazing night of worship and students just stayed singing and praying and confessing sins to each other and leaders, and lives changed! And now when we have a night of worship, we think we know what God wants to do, and when he doesn’t do it the same way he did before, we get disappointed because the Spirit didn’t “show up” that night. We get familiar with what he’s done, and quit looking for what he wants to do.

We let complacently squash expectations when we get Comfortable. Some of us go to churches that, if someone started praying in tongues during worship, it would be an awkward situation. If a student interrupted your message because they received a message from the Lord, that could lead to a very uncomfortable situation.

Not only that, but some of us have found a great routine for our programs. Doors open, students come in, we sing a song, we do announcements, we sing 2 more songs, we preach the message, and we close. If the Spirit showed up, we don’t actively think, when preparing our services, that God could move in it. We pray for the individual elements, but there’s no real expectancy of the power to be displayed.

I think that last part is directly correlated to the third way we lose expectancy, and that’s the unknown. I don’t know what would happen, what I would do or my students do, if a student stood up with a message from the Lord. When I read about the Acts of the Spirit in the early church, it seems so foreign to me, I wouldn’t know how to react to some of those things.

We lose expectancy because we haven’t seen the spirit truly move in our Youth Ministries before, so we have no idea what it would look like for it to happen.

So I’m praying for more reliance on the Spirit. I want to see crazy things happen in my Youth Ministry. There are students who need healing, be it emotional, spiritual, or physical, and I know only the Spirit can heal them. I want to see my students have hearts that are broken open and set on fire for sharing the gospel with their friends, and no message I preach can cause that to happen, only the spirit.

I don’t know how the Spirit is going to move, but I’m expecting him to.

What if Youth Ministry was different?

What if… we stopped talking about what youth ministry does wrong and started looking at what we do wrong? Matthew 12:33-37

What if… we withheld judgement of this or that youth pastor’s motives and asked the Holy Spirit to reveal ours? Matthew 7:1-5, Romans 2:1-3

What if… we got off our soapbox and starting fixing the problem we moan about? James 3:10, James 4:1-7

What if… we stopped self-promoting and focused our energies on promoting Jesus? Proverbs 11:2, Proverbs 16:18

What if… our church never “gets it” but we chose to stay instead of leave? Proverbs 3:5, Ephesians 6:12

What if… we used our journal/prayer time/Bible reading to vent and rant instead of posting it to a blog or Facebook? 1 Peter 5:7, Proverbs 21:23, Ephesians 4:29

What if… we didn’t try to one up the “competition” but partnered with them for the greater good? Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12

What if… we judged others with the grace we give ourselves? Matthew 7:1-5

What if… we stopped building our personal platform and built the kingdom? Matthew 6:33

 

What do you think would happen? How can we make this happen? I want this to happen!

 

Helping Students understand the importance of Reading the Bible

What I find in this fast-paced culture is more and more people are biblically illiterate. God’s Word is powerful, true, relevant and applicable. Everyone has an opinion on the Bible and if it is trustworthy. Some pick and choose which verses they think are inspired by God. I believe that God’s Word is His infallible and inherent Word. It is completely trustworthy.

Why should we read it?

God reveals Himself in the Bible. It is about understanding the story of God redeeming mankind. God has chosen to reveal His nature and will in the Bible. God wants us to know who He is and how to become like Him.

Ask God before you read to reveal Himself. If we only read the Bible for what we can “get out of it” we can be distracted from the heart of God’s revelation, which is Himself. We need to come thirsty. Ask God to pour out His truth into our hearts. Praying that the Holy Spirit will help us understand the Bible and bring it to light (Luke 24:45). I realize I need to listen, pray and meditate before moving into anything else.

Meditate on it by thinking, praying and reminding yourself about scripture during the day.

I think of reading the Bible as syrup is to a pancake. I love breakfast food any time of the day! I pour syrup onto the pancake to saturate it completely. I want it to be full and overflowing. The same is true in how we read the Bible.

The most important reason to read the Bible is to understand story of the gospel. The Bible is living and active and is not meant for the bookshelf. 

Obey what you read. Once you spend time meditating on each word of the verse(s), take time to ask God to help you put it into action.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” 2 Timothy 3:16-17. 


Helping Students understand the importance of Reading the Bible

What I find in this fast-paced culture is more and more people are biblically illiterate. God’s Word is powerful, true, relevant and applicable. Everyone has an opinion on the Bible and if it is trustworthy. Some pick and choose which verses they think are inspired by God. I believe that God’s Word is His infallible and inherent Word. It is completely trustworthy.

Why should we read it?

God reveals Himself in the Bible. It is about understanding the story of God redeeming mankind. God has chosen to reveal His nature and will in the Bible. God wants us to know who He is and how to become like Him.

Ask God before you read to reveal Himself. If we only read the Bible for what we can “get out of it” we can be distracted from the heart of God’s revelation, which is Himself. We need to come thirsty. Ask God to pour out His truth into our hearts. Praying that the Holy Spirit will help us understand the Bible and bring it to light (Luke 24:45). I realize I need to listen, pray and meditate before moving into anything else.

Meditate on it by thinking, praying and reminding yourself about scripture during the day.

I think of reading the Bible as syrup is to a pancake. I love breakfast food any time of the day! I pour syrup onto the pancake to saturate it completely. I want it to be full and overflowing. The same is true in how we read the Bible.

The most important reason to read the Bible is to understand story of the gospel. The Bible is living and active and is not meant for the bookshelf. 

Obey what you read. Once you spend time meditating on each word of the verse(s), take time to ask God to help you put it into action.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” 2 Timothy 3:16-17. 


What Now? Dealing With Discouragement

Every ministry is different, with unique stories, successes, challenges, and goals.  You may be reading this article as a minister to adults, to students, a worship leader, a volunteer youth sponsor, a small groups leader, a Sunday School teacher, or maybe something entirely different.

But there is one common thread that runs through every single ministry.  Discouragement is something that every single person in ministry has experienced at some point or another.  For me as a Youth Minister, there are a number of times I have experienced discouragement, and maybe you can relate.  When you pour your heart into your lesson for youth group, but the homecoming dance draws most of your students away.  When you are criticized by one of your youth leaders or an elder for a decision you made.  When a student shares their home life with you, and it breaks your heart.  When a parent rakes you over the coals for something petty or ridiculous.

All of these things can begin to chip away at your joy and make you question your calling.  So, when discouragement hits, here are some important things to remember.

1.  Remember your audience
Leadership always draws criticism.  When you are the leader, someone will disagree with you.  You will never please everyone, nor should you try.  Rest in knowing that your audience is God alone, and pleasing Him is the ONLY thing you should be concerned with.  When Noah built a boat by God’s command, he was mocked and ridiculed.  Then the rain fell.  When Nehemiah and Ezra set out to rebuild Jerusalem, they faced severe opposition.  They stood in the gap anyway.  When David, by every possible measure, was outmatched and outmanned, he picked up 5 stones.  Be the best leader possible by being the best follower possible.

2.  Remember your calling
If you are in ministry full-time, then you, at some point, felt the compulsion of the Holy Spirit guiding your life into this adventure.  Don’t abandon the call of leadership so quickly.  Trust in the leadership qualities that God trusted in when He called you.  And remember 2 Thessalonians 1:11 – “With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.”

3.  Remember your charge
In 2 Timothy 4:1-2, Paul writes to his young student Timothy – “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.”  Paul knew Timothy would face discouragement and frustration.  He wanted Timothy to be ready and eager to defend the faith, to stand up for the Gospel, and to lead passionately.  He wanted Timothy to have a goal when everything went wrong.  He wanted Timothy to forge ahead and not shrink back in tough situations.  You, likewise, have been charged.  Lead passionately and boldly.

4.  Remember you are a servant
Yes, you are called to lead, and your audience is God alone.  But true leaders understand that they can be wrong from time to time.  And true leaders admit when they are wrong, and work to rectify it.  When discouragement hits, pray humbly and listen openly to God’s direction.  If there is any way that you can turn the situation around, even if it means apologizing or admitting you made a poor decision, do it.  In the long run, you will gain a lot of credibility by owning up, taking the high road, and choosing joy in the midst of discouragement.  Romans 12:18 reminds us, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

5.  Remember you are not alone
God never calls without equipping.  God never leads with going with us.  And when everything seems to be falling apart, God never forsakes us.  We recently studied the faithfulness of God in exile, and it’s remarkable to me how God always protects, always watches over, and always loves His people in the midst of their pain.  Psalm 89:8 says, “O LORD God Almighty, who is like you? You are mighty, O LORD, and your faithfulness surrounds you.”

What do you do when you are faced with discouragement?

Discussion: If WEED were legal….

As a youth pastor, I already know that students view weed differently than I do (I’m 31). So, here is the question:

If marijuana were made legal, what position would you take? 

[polldaddy poll=6398358]

We’d love to hear your thoughts below…