â€œJesus did not promise to be at every prayer meeting, but only at those â€œwhere two or three are gathered together in My name,â€ (Matthew 18:20)â€. - Oswald Chambers
There they were, gathered together in His name – 300 Pastors, Youth Ministers and Workers, under the cover of Psalm 27. Concerts of Prayer of Greater New York extended a special invitation to youth leaders through the Coalition of Urban Youth Workers to attend the Pastorâ€™s Prayer Summit January 2006. Coalition Chairs led the Youth prayer session as they lifted up the myriad of issues young people face. Throughout the session a slide presentation of pictures ran continually, reminding them of innocence and joy of youth. City elders prayed and commissioned youth workers. The evening concluded with Coalition members serving communion to the City Elders.
â€œIt is not so true that â€œPrayer changes thingsâ€ as that prayer changes me. Then I change things; consequently we must not ask God to do what He has created us to doâ€¦â€ Oswald Chambers
As so the City elders and emerging leaders prayerfully moved into an intergenerational dialogue to collectively consider how to be a â€œliving expression of Godâ€™s presenceâ€ in the lives of New Yorkâ€™s youth. The 100 or so people who filled a little room in the Tuscarora Inn, did not kid themselves. Diverse backgrounds did not eliminate the desire to find common ground. They were not recreating the wheel. Today questions are kin to the issues Senior Pastors, many former youth ministers, grappled with in yester year. Nor were they going to solve the worldâ€™s problems in one discussion. If you had been there, listening carefully, you might have heard the sound of eternal fruit growing as a result of the body of Christ simply coming together. You might have heard the sound of possibilities through these kinds of statements:
Cheryl Wilson, Youth Minister of Central Baptist Church, NY, NY
â€œI would like to work with the Coalition to organize regular prayer meetings for our youth. We all have different ways that we do ministry, there has to be a common denominator that we all have â€“ its prayer. Everything flows from prayer.â€
Ron Mitchell, Coordinator, Hope Africa Project, New York
â€œAfter hearing todayâ€™s discussion, in the sixties we would have said â€œRight on.â€ Then and now, there need to be those who can bring diverse perspectives together and create opportunities for partnership to address the issues we are facing. We need a balance between evangelism, discipleship and social concern going beyond ourselves and into the lives of others here and abroad. We have to go beyond â€œChurchanityâ€ and into a lifestyle that truly reflects Christianity. As the church in the richest country in the world, we have a call to stewardship to the least of these – to those who are living on a dollar a day. These are the issues we are passing on to our youth.â€
Phil Maxwell, Senior Pastor, Gateway Baptist Church, Bridgewater, NJ
â€œ80% of the people giving their lives to the Lord are 18 and younger. The church is spending 80% of its finances on people 18 and older. Resources need to be redirected to reach the next generation. We need to create an inviting environment for youth to present the message of the Gospel. The Gospel brings change. The message is always sacred but the methods are not.â€
Zola Allen, Youth Pastor, New Life Church, Elmhurst, NY
â€œGod has always used young people to start radical movements. We need to equip young people and take them seriously. If we donâ€™t, the world will. Prayer is the best thing we can do. Churches also need to resource each other. Instead of worrying about sheep stealing we need to be kingdom minded.â€
John Grable, Youth Worker First Church of God
To understand someone you have to listen. When you listen to a child you can find out what their pains are. You donâ€™t need formulas or gimmicks. You donâ€™t need to change the church.
Denise Hykes, Youth Outreach Worker, Washington Heights, Vision Youth Worker
â€œIt was a good start but conversations need to continue with Youth Workers and their Senior Pastors/Elders. Sometimes it’s easier for people to write off youth workers as rebellious instead of really hearing what they are trying to say. Pats on the back are nice on Sunday morning, but what we would really like is to be listened to during the week.â€
And so the youth minister queried his Pastor, â€œI have your congregation in the next ten years. What do would you like me to do with them?â€
Weâ€™d like to think they begin with prayer.
Please visit the www.TheCoalitionNYC.blogspot.com
Written by Sonya