Fast Without the Furious

A pastor I’ve known for a long time challenged me to fast periodically. I used to grit my teeth and commit to grind out the duration of the fast, believing it was good for expanding my heart’s passion for the Lord and compassion for others. I joked about reversing the Daniel Fast and only eating meats and sweets. Of all the spiritual disciplines, fasting is the one I’ve struggled with the most.

In the book, Fast Living, I finally caught a glimpse of fasting that touched my heart and moved me to a more genuine act of worship. The author points out that there are moments in the human experience that no one would consider eating, such as a bride taking the arm of her father to walk down the isle. At that moment stopping for a meatball sub would never cross her mind. Similarly, no one approaching the scene of a tragic accident reaches for a snack. No one enters an appointment to hear a serious diagnosis with a to-go bag.

There are moments in life, points of impact, when human appetites fade due to something more significant. Life priorities shuffle. We realize the most important things in life are unseen, untouchable by hands and only touched in the deepest places of our hearts.

This is a good introduction to fasting.  As we get a glimpse of this world the way God sees it, our human appetites for the things of this world fade and laying them aside for a season is just reasonable or even welcome. With a true view from God’s perspective one could ask: “How can I consume so much when others have so little? How can I enjoy such comforts and excess when God’s heart is broken for people in need of basic life resources? Can’t I use more of what he has given me to help them?”

We are convicted that for a season we could:

  • Eat less and less often so that, through God’s leading, we can pray more and more fervently for those around the world in need.
  • Shower quicker and pray more as an act of solidarity with those who have little water.
  • Abstain from an entertainment in order to spend more time with the Lord and others following him so we can pray, listen and then act.

Listening to the Lord and becoming educated on his view of the world is essential then for True Fasting.

This is why Youth Unlimited has collaborated with both LIVE 58 and World Renew for the 2014 Serve theme material. Together, we just sent 2,500 copies of Fast Living to church pastors across Canada and the U.S.

LIVE 58 has become an amplifier for Isaiah 58, making the message of God’s heart for a hurting world simple to access. Their website and resources are creative, fun and meant for friends and groups to do together. Check them out at

World Renew has many real life stories not just of need, but of courage and hope and followers of Christ around the world who pull together the assets of a community and make a difference through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Check them out at

This year, we want to help your students sense the heart of the Lord for this hurting world. We want to see the appetites of this world fade in the light of God’s longing for his people to help others. The Serve experience will call students to fast for a week from ordinary comforts and conveniences and inspire them to engage in praying, fasting, giving and being an advocate in their church for the rest of the year.

Divine Normal: Kingdom Living by Mere Mortals

We recognize that it can be hard for high school students to feel as though they are truly living for Christ and for the Kingdom. On youth mission trips students often hear the invitation to go into all the world with the gospel. Youth leaders and speakers clearly present Christ’s words to deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow him. But that can make it sound like missional living requires world travel and gospel preaching on a diet of bugs. That might be either scary or exciting, but it’s not an accurate picture of Kingdom impact for everyone.


Students can get even more confused after returning home, because changing the world often gets put on hold altogether. Thoughts of world restoration can be drowned out by the need to get good grades, a good job, enough money and a successful life. But is it really one or the other? Can a student in the midst of homework, sports, tests and friends really help change the world with the gospel? Or for some of us, are our lives just too normal to have divine Kingdom impact? We may wonder if we’re missing a higher calling or if there’s a way that everyday life can become more radically Christian.


Inspired by God’s exhortations to his people in Isaiah 58, the theme for 2014 will address issues of justice that “ordinary” people can do something about right away. “Normal” will be redefined in light of heavenly, and not earthly, standards, so that students will see just how radical everyday Christian life and love can be.


The fundamental truth is that God exists, and he is engaged in creation and culture. Students will be encouraged to celebrate their gospel call to be co-workers with Christ by bringing about restoration in the world. They will be challenged to add practical justice initiatives to their existing routine of spiritual disciplines. By the end of the week, students and leaders will be encouraged to engage their congregations back home with a Kingdom-impacting project that will take place in the fall or winter in order to keep the momentum from their summer trip moving towards a lifestyle of missions.


This year, Serve student mission trips is excited to partner with Live58 and World Renew to bring real stories of community impact and resources for continued service after the Serve week. If you want to get a head start on this theme, read the book Fast Living by Dr. Scott Todd. All Serve Speakers and Worship Leaders will be encouraged to read this before Serve, and both the Host and Sending Churches will be encouraged to watch the movie, LIVE 58.