[This is the third post in our series on Building a Youth Ministry from Scratch]
Aside from making sure your own connection with God is strong, the most important thing you need is prayer support. What you need are some prayer warriors who will petition the King of Kings for the new ministry. So how do you find these?
Approach the Right People
In my experience, older people are perfect for this job. I’ve had some awesome senior citizens providing the ‘air support’ for my youth ministry. One lady in particular literally battled in prayer for us—and what a difference it made. If you have elderly people in your church, consider approaching them to become your prayer warriors.
Another group I’ve had ‘success’ with are new moms. They’re often too busy to get involved in a ministry in a practical way, since they need to take care of the baby, but they do have ample time for prayer. Also, especially if they’re become a parent for the first time, they are sensitive to the needs of children and teens.
You can also ask the elders to pray for the teen ministry in the services and approach the small group leaders to pray in the small groups. And if you have any others ministries up and running, make sure to ask them to pray as well.
Transfer a Prayer Burden
Getting people to pray for you is sometimes harder than it seems. Oh, getting people to say they’ll pray for you is one thing, but finding the real prayer warriors is quite another.
What’s often crucial in getting people to pray, is giving them a prayer burden. Or more accurately: letting the Holy Spirit burden them with praying for your ministry. One way you can do that, is by painting the current situation and the spiritual effects this has on your youth.
Maybe you’re in a dying church and if you do nothing, there will be no young people left.
Maybe you see all the students disappear from church after college.
Maybe you live in a highly post-Christian area and you see the effects this has on young people.
Maybe you’re part of a church plant and you only have two students right now.
Maybe you live in a non-western context and your youth have no future prospects, other than crime, poverty, or false hope through a false gospel.
Whatever your situation, there’s a reason you’re starting a youth ministry. There’s a burden on your soul, because if there isn’t, you wouldn’t be doing this. So what’s your burden? Why are you starting the ministry? What are your hopes and dreams for the young people, even if they’re still vague?
Share that with your potential prayer partners to get them to feel that burden and share it.
Communicate Prayer Needs
Once you’ve got some prayer people on board, make sure to keep them updated through email, text, social media, or a good old-fashioned paper newsletter. How you do it doesn’t matter, as long as it’s their preferred method of communication and you give them the concrete news they need to pray deeper and more specific.
Here’s one crucial tip you need to remember (and it’s something you’ll hear me say again and again): use stories. Nothing works better in getting people to pray for you or say thanks for answered prayers than stories. By stories I mean personal experiences from students in your ministry, for instance students who came for the first time, who made an important spiritual decision, with whom you had a deep conversation—stories like that.
Protect the identity of the student(s) involved by changing names and situations if necessary. Even then, asking for permission from the student to share the story is probably wise. If it will trace back to them, they will at least know about it.
Taking the time to not just list quick prayer needs, but share them through stories that touch the heart is a powerful tool in engaging your prayer warriors.
Do you have a prayer team right now? How are you sharing your prayer needs with them?