Recently, a youth pastor asked about some thoughts on how to respond if the youth group is apathetic. My first thought was, we live in a spiritually apathetic world—apathy toward spiritual things is rampant, even among Christians. It’s nothing new, and as long as we serve in ministry, we will be fighting apathy. It’s what we are called to do.
With that in mind, here’s a few ways to actively engage against an apathetic spirit in your youth group:
1. Pray—Pray personally and ask God to reveal any apathy in your own life. Then have prayer meetings, etc. and claim God’s power to do a work that human efforts cannot do.
2. Teach and Preach the Bible—Ask God to ignite a fire in yourself for the Word of God and for passionately teaching and preaching in practical ways that make sense to teens. The Bible is a living book. It changes the heart. I’ve seen spiritually apathetic teens come to life when the Bible comes alive within them.
3. Personal Ministry—Launch a massive effort of personal ministry to every teen. Take them out to lunch or soulwinning, have them to your home, invest personal time. Do everything you can to build personal, mentoring relationships.
4. Give More Time to the Softest Teens—Give the most spiritually hungry teens more time and energy. Focus on the ones that are earnestly desiring to grow. It’s easy to focus on the hardest hearts, while the softest hearts are ignored. Don’t make that mistake.
5. Encourage the Family—Sometimes apathy abounds in the whole family. Try to work through the parents to strengthen the home. If you can get parents to seriously pray with their kids on a regular basis, your group will be dramatically different!
6. Provide Service Opportunities—Teens need to see beyond themselves. Try to find ways to help them serve God and give themselves to others. Their faith will become real and vibrant when they begin living it out in service to others.
7. Plan Times of Revival—A retreat, a camp, a conference, a revival—these are times when God can do something special through extended preaching and spiritual focus.
8. Uplift the Spiritual—Call attention to the good. When the teens show spiritual growth, magnify it publicly. Have them share a testimony, recognize them some how. What you praise is what others will aim for.
9. Be Patient—Spiritual apathy doesn’t change over night. It take months, maybe years, to see the seeds you plant begin to have a harvest. Your goal should be sustained spiritual direction, not a flash-in-the-pan revival that doesn’t last. Recognize small victories, and keep pressing forward through doubt and resistance.
10. Exemplify a passionate, joyful, spiritual life—Your example in displaying the right life is huge. The teens are all watching you and waiting to see if you are for real. If your life is consistent, your passion real, and your ministry genuine; God will give you fruit for your labor.
“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Galatians 6:9