Axe Mingled with Old Spice: The New Incense
Older members of the congregation may not drive vans full of teenagers or help serve pizzas, but they can help shape the effectiveness of your church’s student ministry. They may be three or four times the ages of the teenagers, but they can be important to them. Axe mingled with Old Spice may create an aroma that will exalt Christ and bless both generations.
Older adults are troubled by some of the trends and developments in the community, the nation, and the world. They need a reminder that it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness. Adults joining Christ in the life of a teenager provide a positive, hopeful way to create a more positive future. Some blessings adults will get to see with their own eyes, and some will emerge as a legacy from their lives for those who follow.
Today, adults may or may not feel connected to the teenagers of your church. Adults may or may not sense teenagers want a relationship with them. You may or may not believe building bridges between adults and teenagers has been a priority for your church in the past. But the past is past, and it is time to move forward.
Your church may have adults who would gladly accept your call to invest in the life of one special teenager. They might express this call by becoming a Prayer Mentor.
Prayer Mentors pray daily over a teenager
and they provide encouragement and warmth to that student.
They reflect the heart of an older Paul toward Timothy:
“I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day,
longing to see you … so that I may be filled with joy” 2 Timothy 1:3-4.
Use your imagination.
- Imagine a pipeline of Christ’s power and protection flowing into your students’ lives every day through prayer.
- Imagine more adults praying the second year than the first and more the third year than the second.
- Imagine your students receiving regular notes of encouragement from the very people who care enough to pray for them every day.
- Imagine students who are stronger and steadier in their faith because they feel the prayers and support of their Prayer Mentors.
- Imagine having a Prayer Mentor you quickly can email any time you learn of a crisis affecting that mentor’s student.
- Imagine having a host of Prayer Mentors you quickly can email any time there is a great challenge or opportunity facing the overall student ministry.
- Imagine seeing a young man carrying a gift-wrapped box at church and discovering it’s his birthday and the gift is from his Prayer Mentor.
- Imagine knowing adults are praying for a young generation to lead the church in an awakening to God’s Son.
Bottom line: God blesses prayer and the nurturing connection formed between two generations.
Look forward to the day when Prayer Mentors might:
- Show the most delight when a teenager walks in the auditorium.
- Guarantee a teenager will receive at least one hug while at church.
- Affirm the gifts and abilities they see in a teenager.
- Express genuine interest in a teenager’s future education, vocation, and family.
- Build up a teenager in conversations with the parents.
- Celebrate a teenager making a clear promise of moral purity or taking any other public stand for King Jesus.
Many teenagers today are missing relationships that could be valuable to them. Prayer Mentors can be part of the solution. They can:
- Introduce their teenager to their extended family.
- Introduce their teenager to other members of the congregation who can bless his or her life.
- Introduce their teenager to adults who can help open doors related to education, present employment, and future vocation.
Relationships are powerful, but prayer is the heart of Prayer Mentor relationships. Those prayers can flow in both directions. Teenagers who develop heart connections with their mentor may well begin to pray for him or her. Adults can discover there is power in prayer as a teenager brings the mentor’s name before the throne every morning. Over time, that may well mean prayer requests begin to flow both directions.
A Prayer Mentor initiative is built on three commitments:
- For an adult Prayer Mentor to pray for his or her assigned student every day.
- For the Prayer Mentor to continue to pray for his or her assigned student until he or she graduates from college or is married.
- For the Prayer Mentor to encourage his or her student with spoken words and notes that communicate, “I’m still here, and I’m still praying for you.”
Keys to Effectiveness
Churches that have embraced a Prayer Mentor initiative have discovered:
- The senior pastor’s excitement about and commitment to the initiative and the three commitments (noted above) are most important to a successful ministry.
- The student minister’s passionate concern for having every student covered in daily prayer is the second most important ingredient.
- A gifted, motivated Prayer Mentor initiative coordinator is the third most important factor. With the support of the church staff, the coordinator works through leaders in adult ministry and student ministry, arranges for background checks, forms the same-gender pairs, and creates plans for introducing the two generations to each other.
- A well-crafted communication/promotion plan is the fourth most important key.
Pray for a day when adults in your congregation will pray:
introduce me to the teenager You have chosen for me.
For the glory of your Father and in the power of your Spirit, let me see that teenager
increasingly embrace your full supremacy,
responding to your majesty in all of life, and
joining You in making disciples among all peoples.
To that end,
awaken me to more of who you are today.
Prepare me to adore your dazzling radiance.
And glorify yourself as I arise to join You in the life of this teenager.