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  • Paul Neville

NorthStar Pray Guide - 2020

Week 1 – Praying through the Impact of Youth Sports

· SundaySkill Development leads to Self-Confidence. Pray for teachers, coaches, mentors who will focus encouragement on effort rather than innate traits / success that didn’t require effort to achieve. Charles Fay with Love & Logic writes (regarding motivating kids to learn in the classroom), that to feel confident and be willing to work to learn kids need five things: positive Relationships; encouragement to take Risks; to be allowed to Struggle ; experience Accomplishment and to be able to Attribute success to his/her effort.

· Monday – Pray for quality sport programs to be accessible to Birmingham city youth regardless of family income level, programs that will promotes a health, active lifestyle – for these sports programs to be effective in combating childhood obesity . . . but also to provide a venue for learning, practicing, and developing gross motor skills. “Successful acquisition of a motor skill at a young age improves the likelihood of future participation in that activity in adulthood.” National Institutes of Health: Journal of Sports Medicine. .

· TuesdayEmotional control is a critical ingredient for academic success in the classroom. Lack of ability to regulate emotions has the following impact on those youth: interferes with their ability to do cognitive tasks; disrupts higher order mental process which in turn contributes to an inability to attend to and retain new information; leads to lack of behavioral control, leading to missed class time and poor student/teacher relationships. (Role of Emotion Regulation and Children's Early Academic Success – Pray that NorthStar can effectively instruct our coaches to seize the opportunity with players who are lacking in emotional control (and we see plenty) to help them strengthen their ability to manage their emotions.

· Wednesday – Team sports offer an opportunity for quality mentoring relationships. Pray for spiritually motivated coaches for NorthStar. Coaches who are ready to go far beyond coaching their teams to win but are motivated more by the opportunity to serve as mentors to youth.

· ThursdayLeadership Development challenge – Every season NorthStar provides opportunities for youth to get involved and to be challenged to serve and to lead. Pray for a quality experience for youth with soccer expertise coming from outside of our program. We want them to learn positive principles to develop a habit of life-time service. Pray also for youth coming up through our program to be ready to give back to younger kids.

· FridayVolunteers and staff to be transformed through the experience. Pray through Ephesians 2:1-10 and Philippians 2:5-17 as relates to volunteers (and on the question of whether you yourself should become one😊). “In Christ he (God) sets one free from following the desires and thoughts of one’s sinful nature – including one’s own ideas of what it means to do good, and one’s own goals for doing it. He gives one salvation and a calling of equally sheer grace: Set aside one’s own philanthropy (ideas for doing good) conclusively, and instead dispense his, comprehensively.” Eric Foner, The Whole Life Offering, p. 45.

· Saturday – Pray for Sports programs to operate in such a way that they build the local community. Pray for NorthStar programs not only to benefit individual youth but to serve as a beacon and rallying point for families. Pray that NorthStar can be one among many positive strands that do good and build the community while pointing to Christ.

Week 2 – Praying through Barriers which stand in the way of the positive Impact of Youth Sports

· Sunday – Pray against the cost barrier – “The share of children ages 6 to 12 who play a team sport on a regular basis declined from 41.5 percent in 2011 to 37 percent in 2017” but “dig into the numbers, and a more complex, two-track story emerges. Among richer families, youth sports participation is actually rising. Among the poorest households, it’s trending down.” Why? “Expensive travel leagues siphon off talented young athletes from well-off families, leaving behind desiccated local leagues with fewer players, fewer involved parents, and fewer resources.” Click this link to read the full article -

· Monday – Pray against the winning is everything barrier. Some coaches & parents over-emphasize game results at the expense of child/player development. Lots of articles written on this but this TED talk from Valorie Kondos, former gymnastics coach at UCLA, makes the case very clear. Pray that we can effectively communicate this win/win priority to all our coaches.

· Tuesday – Pray against the challenge of predators infiltrating youth organizations

· Wednesday – Pray against the challenge of finding enough of the right volunteers to staff programs. People are busy and there are lots of competing interests. Pray for good recruiting by all organizations doing quality youth mentoring (not just sports organizations) to get their message and the opportunity clearly communicated to the right people. But pray too for more people to be willing to give of themselves to the cause.

· Thursday – Pray for those who serve to show wisdom in how they serve. One well-known resource on this topic is When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert. Here is a good quote from that book, ‘The core problem with short term missions to poor communities is that they tend to reflect the perspective of ‘poverty as deficit,’ the idea that poverty to due to the poor lacking something . . . material resources, but a lack of knowledge or spirituality is also commonly cited . . . this leads to strategies in which the materially non-poor are necessarily in the position of giving the “something” to the materially poor . . . In, contrast, we have discussed how a more relational understanding of poverty sees both the materially poor and non-poor as both suffering from broken relationships, albeit in different ways”. Real relationships of respect are the core issue in their view. Take a look at this website for some discussion if you wish before deciding to purchase and read the book

· Friday – Pray against turf wars that are more about institution building than well being of kids. Pray for unity and coordination among: city government/park board, schools, agencies/non-profit organizations & churches.

· Saturday - Pray against negative community influences which can lure youth away from opportunities. Pray against gangs, substance abuse and crime. Any influence that promotes immediate gratification but brings long-term harm to our youth. Pray for the strength of all the influences that are important for youth to flourish – much more than strong sports programs. Pray for flourishing arts programs solid academic enrichment opportunities, Scouting/adventure programs, supportive church youth groups, more.

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