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What is the most frustrating trait a student can have? I think most Student Pastors would have the same answer. I like what Jimmy Buffet said, “Is it ignorance or is it apathy? I don’t know and I don’t care.” It’s frustrating when a student is apathetic, but that frustration shouldn’t prevent us from trying our best to kill the apathy. Believe it or not, you can make adjustments in your ministry that will prevent students from becoming apathetic. Here are my 6 suggestions:
1. Keep it on the Top Shelf: When we talk down to students or teach below their capacity of learning, we have just put our students in a position where they’re tuning us out. Teach up! Don’t teach over their heads, but teach in a way that makes them have to reach to grasp what you’re teaching.
2. Get Students Out of their Bubbles: Exposing a student to the real world is a beautiful thing. You can do that through real world events, mission trips, social injustice movements, etc. When you can reveal the brokeness and hurt and destruction surrounding us, it softens the hearts of students and shows them the real need of the Gospel.
3. Give Opportunities to Serve: Stop hogging all the work! Look for ways to give students the opportunity to get their hands dirty. Teenagers want to do hard things and if we keep doing all the work, they won’t be as interested as they would if they were truly invested.
4. Practice Evangelism: If you can equip a student to share their faith and then go with them as they put their training into action, you’ll kill any ounce of apathy they may have. You can’t be apathetic to the things of God if you’re currently fulfilling the commands of God. When students share their faith, they suddenly care about eternal things.
5. Be an Example in your Energy & Excitement: We often complain about students sitting and sulking. We get upset because our environments aren’t more exciting. Here’s a thought: Model the level of energy and excitement and see if students won’t match it. Teenagers will typically match whatever you’re putting out. If you’re acting too cool, so will they. If you’re getting down and dirty, so will they. If you’re excited to be there, so are they. Try it.
6. Practice Prayer: If you can get a student to genuinely pray for something, they can’t be apathetic towards that thing anymore. If you get students to pray over an empty chair in Youth Group and they’re begging the God of the Universe to use them to reach someone that week to fill it, they can’t be apathetic towards the results. They’ll care, but first we have to move them to practice prayer.