The Youth Ministry Mindset Podcast – Ep. 4: Gen Z and the Holy Spirit with guest Sarah Kaczmarek

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In Episode 4 of The Youth Ministry Mindset Podcast, a limited series with voices from Alpha and YDisciple, Joshua, Annie, and Jordan discuss successes, failures, and the importance of relying on the Holy Spirit in ministry with guest Sarah Kaczmarek, Director of Pastoral Ministry at Encounter Ministries. Join us as we continue the conversation on what to bring into youth ministry in a post-COVID world.

Reliance on the Holy Spirit

Students are done with explanations about God; it’s vital to experience the power of the Holy Spirit personally. So how do we do that? 

Start with what reliance on the Holy Spirit is not so that they can experience what his power is. Reliance on the Holy Spirit is not emotional manipulation; it needs to be authentic. It is also not a watering down of the truth of the Gospel. We don’t want to just talk about our faith; there needs to be an experience of faith. It is also not an excuse to “wing it.” Reliance on the Holy Spirit is necessary for each moment, but not for long-term planning.

Speaking with guest Sarah Kaczmarek, former Associate Director of Alpha Catholic who now works with Encounter Ministries, about reliance on the Holy Spirit.

Gen Z has been taught about God but not always invited into an interactive relationship with the Living God. Encounters bring about transformation. How do we create this space?

What obstacles do we encounter that prevent youth leaders from providing the space for an encounter with God? If we haven’t had an encounter with Him, we can’t lead others. We need to have the belief that God will show up. So we must ask the Lord for our own encounter with Him first. Also, we want to control because we are human; we want to be the architect of a really great experience. When we let go of control and invite God into this space, it can feel messy, but God will show up and blow our minds. 

We need to pray, invite the Holy Spirit in. Then we need to wait in silence, even if it’s uncomfortable. We can always look for moments to be obedient. Asking for the Holy Spirit to come is part of our tradition, but not part of our culture. But when we create a high value for the presence of God, then we build everything around Him. So we ask for God to show up, just like He promises in the Scriptures. 

When introducing volunteers to ministry reliant on the Holy Spirit, what would be the focus? Asking ourselves, “Have we as leaders each had a personal encounter with God?” Then we ask our team, “Why does this ministry exist? What is the purpose of our meetings?” Then we ask the Lord, “God, how do we do this in a way that always keeps you at the center of what we’re doing?” Then just show up, and God will show up, and amazing things will happen.


Having the confidence to believe, if I ask the Holy Spirit to show up, He will. The Holy Spirit is moving, regardless of what we see or what the youth see. Sarah felt nervous, but she created the space for God to move, impacting the youth and their parents. An essential first step is to create a space for yourself, then invite the youth into that space.


  1. “Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you” -St. Augustine
  2. iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy–and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood–and What That Means for the Rest of Us by Jean M. Twenge
  3. We all have experience of this moment, in which it is no longer enough to talk about Jesus by repeating what others say. It is necessary to say what you think, and not to report an opinion; it is necessary to give a witness, to feel committed by the testimony given and to go up to the extreme demands of this commitment.” – St. John Paul II, Homily for Young People and Students, Belo Horizonte (Brazil), 1 July 1980


8:15 “We do not hype the Holy Spirit up, the Holy Spirit comes down.”

23:54 “[The Holy Spirit] doesn’t need all the bells, the whistles, the fog, whatever it is we think that the Holy Spirit needs to show up. We just need to ask and then get out of the way.”

29:53 “I want to do just enough to set the table, to make sure everything is prepared as the Lord has led me to, and then invite the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings to sit down and have a conversation with their sons and daughters.” 

37:38 “We know God is good theologically, but we’re creating space for His Goodness to come through and that’s reliance on the Holy Spirit.”


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