One of your primary jobs as a youth leader is to model what it looks like to follow Jesus—even when it feels awkward, risky or downright scary. At its core, that’s what Gospel Advancing Ministry is all about—showing your students how to walk with Jesus and share Him with others.
But what do you do with your students who are apathetic?
The cure for apathy is passion. So your goal with apathetic students is to try to help them fall in love with Jesus (again). Because it’s a love relationship with Jesus that will compel them to live as His disciple and share Him with others out of the overflow of gratitude in their heart.
So how can you help your students fall more deeply in love with Jesus? Here are four apathy busting strategies.
1. Start with intercessory prayer.
Prayer lays the foundation for catalytic change in your apathetic students. Pray for them personally, and recruit prayer warriors to pray for your students right alongside you. Plead with the Holy Spirit to do a spiritual work in their lives.
Sometimes we treat prayer like a shopping list… “God, I need this.” “Father, I want that to happen.” And often our shopping list is full of good things that we are asking God for on behalf of others. But consider how Paul describes the passionate prayer life of Epaphras in Colossians 4:12: “Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.” Epaphras’ prayers were a wrestling match, not a shopping list.
Try This! ❯
Recruit at least one prayer warrior this week to pray for your students. Encourage them to use Paul’s words in Ephesians 3:17-19 as a prayer prompt.
When is the last time you wrestled in prayer for the Holy Spirit to fan the flame of devotion in your apathetic students?
Like the Apostle Paul before you, the depth of Jesus’ love is something you and other prayer warriors can be actively praying into the souls of your apathetic students. Try using Paul’s words in Ephesians 3:17-19 as a prayer prompt when you pray for them:
“And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.” (The Message)
2. Make time for meaningful worship experiences.
Moving worship times lead us into the presence of God. And no one can encounter God’s presence and not be impacted. So set aside regular times in your programming for meaningful worship time. These may incorporate music, prayer, candles, creativity or quiet. Experiment until you find some worship styles your students connect with God through. Then continue to mix it up on occasion in order to keep things fresh. Whatever form it takes, worship is a powerful vehicle for taking students deeper in and higher up with Jesus, which, in turn, makes them more willing and motivated to talk to their friends about the Jesus they love.
3. Give your students opportunities for catalytic experiences.
Pray about organizing some sort of catalytic, evangelism-focused event for your teenagers that will kindle their passion—both for God and for their friends who need Jesus. Events like weekend retreats, camps, mission trips, evangelism-focused service projects, or Dare 2 Share events like Lead THE Cause and D2S LIVE provide settings that are conducive for the Holy Spirit to ignite a student’s spiritual passion.
4. Make sure your students understand the gospel.
What stirs our hearts deeply about Jesus? That He loves us passionately, deeply, sacrificially and unconditionally. In other words, it’s the very message of the gospel, understood deep in one’s soul that unleashes the floodgates of emotional connection to our God. So helping your students understand the profound theology of the gospel and the depth of Jesus’ love for them are critical elements in helping them fall in love with Jesus. This is what we mean at Dare 2 Share when we talk about building a Gospel Advancing Ministry, where the gospel is advancing BOTH deep into the souls of your students AND out into their world as they share the gospel with their friends who need Jesus.
But in the end, if you’ve tried everything you can think of to help your apathetic students fall in love with Jesus (again), don’t beat yourself up. Go with the growers, keep praying for the others and carry on with advancing the gospel. The time may not be right for the Spirit of God to get ahold of their hearts just now…but rest assured that God’s not finished with them yet.
There’s a reason He’s called the Hound of Heaven.
Want more practical advice on mobilizing your teens to share the gospel? All of our Mobilize stories offer great ideas for training your students and building a Gospel Advancing Ministry. Sign up here to receive this free, hands-on resource in your inbox!