Fasting: Spiritual Disciplines for Youth Workers

Editor’s Note: This is the seventh in a 12-part series on spiritual disciplines for youth workers, based on Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline.

I have set many goals in my life—here are a few: learn biblical Greek, visit all the national parks with snow-capped mountains (I like alpine peaks), read everything written by C.S. Lewis, learn to cook well…some were easier to realize than others. But one goal I have never set for myself is this one: learn the spiritual discipline of fasting. I mean, really. Sure, it sounds godly to grow in prayer, or service, or worship. But fasting just sounded miserable to me!

Enough of true confessions. I’m here to tell you that I was flat out wrong. While there is nothing easy about fasting, it can reap profound benefits. Nevertheless, I will also admit to you that of the twelve classic disciplines examined by Richard Foster in his devotional classic Celebration of Discipline, fasting is by far the one with which I have the least experience. In fact, I am humbled to be writing about how to do it as a youthworker, because I still have so much to learn about it myself.

That being said, I still want to share a few things I have come to realize so far.


Radical Peace

by Jaymes Lackey

On a cold December’s night, we put on our best sweaters and head to the church to see the children’s Christmas play. We’re secretly hoping one of the shepherds uses a crook to wrangle a rowdy preschooler. Inevitably, a heavenly host of third-graders says, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14).


Affirming Without Speculating

by Joe Culumber

As we celebrate Christ’s coming into our world, consider Bishop Emeritus Donald N. Bastian’s observation: “The doctrine of Christ’s second appearing is as pronounced in the New Testament as the announcement of His first appearance.”

The 18th century witnessed the birth of Methodism and heightened attention to eschatology (“last things”) ignited by such events as the French Revolution and a series of earthquakes in England. John Wesley was reluctant to be drawn into speculation about the end, focusing rather on the urgency of evangelizing the unconverted. A “desire to flee from the wrath to come” was the only condition for joining a Methodist society.


Mission Statement

Let’s face it; when we are focused, we accomplish a lot more than when we are not focused. At the most recent meeting of the Annual Society of the Winona Lake Free Methodist Church, we got renewed focus. Out of this focus came a new mission statement.

The mission of the Winona Lake Free Methodist Church is to serve Christ, His Church and our community by making more and growing better disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Do you want to know why we are doing the things we are? Do you want to know what makes us tick? Refer to the mission statement.

Study: Spiritual Disciplines for Youth Workers

Editor’s Note: This is the sixth in a 12-part series on spiritual disciplines for youth workers, based on Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline.

Full disclosure: It took me 17 years to get my Master’s degree in Theology.

There, I said it. Not only did I take an outrageous amount of time to complete my studies, I even had to have my faculty advisor plead my case before the Academic Senate to receive my degree! I used to joke that after dealing with me that this particular institution had to create what I referred to as “Kelly’s Law.” Now they require that graduates have to complete their degrees within 10 years of when they start!

What took me so long, you may be asking? Life. I started my graduate studies during my first year working full-time for Young Life. They had a fantastic program that allowed their staff to take seminary courses as “intensives” (usually two weeks of lectures for four hours per day, with lots of pre-reading before and research papers after) that worked toward a degree. Naturally, the hope was that at some point the Young Life staffer would take some time off and go to seminary full-time to finish before Jesus returned!

However, two roadblocks impeded this plan:


Worship: Spiritual Disciplines for Youth Workers

Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in a 12-part series on spiritual disciplines for youth workers, based on Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline.

We have all landed our jobs in different ways as youth pastors. Personally, I attended a church for eight years while I was on staff with Young Life, and as I decided to move on from YL, I was asked to plant the youth ministry at the church. Thus I had experienced life in this church as a member and lay leader for quite awhile before being hired onto the staff.

Frankly, in many ways the transition was a rude awakening. Previously I had absolutely loved attending every Sunday – the teaching was solid, the singing and sharing fed my soul, and the friendships were deep. I actually entered a season of mourning (unexpectedly) after the move. No longer were Sundays purely Sabbath for me. Instead, I entered what I would call the “twilight zone” for pastors, where we are invited to worship with our church family, yet also work at our place of employment. Huh??


Winter Jam

This Sunday the youth and college students are heading to Fort Wayne and the Coliseum for Winter Jam. Performing this year will be Tobymac, Red, Sidewalk Prophets, Newsong, Jamie Grace and more.

You do not have to be young to enjoy this music or to attend. Tickets are only $10 and you can still go. If you are interested in going with Pastor Rick, contact him by this Friday.


Thanks to God for His Mercy

From the time I was 9 or 10 years old, I spent most Saturdays and most of my summer vacation days in my father’s shop in Oakland, CA.  He was an electronics technician and had side-by-side stores where he sold new and used TV’s, radios, two-way communications equipment, etc.  He did repair work on all kinds of electronic equipment.  From time to time, he was contracted by the Navy and area airports to service communications equipment for ships moored in San Francisco and Alameda and weather map equipment.  I grew up learning how to test vacuum tubes, solder, replace defective components with new, and perform other tasks related to the business.  That included installing two-way radios and antennas in cars and installing rooftop TV antennas.


Arab Spring – Our Invitation to Prayer

The level of despair Mohamed Bouazizi reached on December 19, 2010, was not unlike the despair many in developing nations experience. As the sole breadwinner of his family, the young Tunisian was anguished when police officers beat him and confiscated his simple vegetable cart because he lacked a permit. With this action, the police not only removed his sole source of income, but also stomped out what little hope Mohamed once had of a better life. The confiscated vegetables had been bought on credit – a financial arrangement in the developing world that often amounts to enslavement.


Prayer: Spiritual Disciplines for Youth Workers

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a 12-part series on spiritual disciplines for youth workers, based on Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline.

Say the word “prayer” to a youth worker, and I’m sure a slide show of images and emotions flood your mind. The spectrum probably runs from unspeakably sublime to the utterly mundane. I am reminded of praying under a full moon on a granite peak in British Columbia with a dozen juniors and seniors on a backpacking trip; the moonlight radiated off the bare rock in such a way that we were all bathed in a silvery glow. Our prayer time was so profound I can still remember its intensity over 20 years later. Yet prayer with youth also conjures up memories (nightmares?) of being a camp speaker for 300 junior highers, and telling them about Christ’s passion on the cross. With deep emotion and a grave demeanor, I called them to pray and consider the sacrifices of our Lord. In silence so wide we could hear a pin drop…a boy let out a massive fart, and let’s just say, the moment was lost!