When Apathy Hits

September 24th, 2017

There certainly is a feeling these days of apathy from our students and families that seems a bit more pronounced than in generations past. We have always seen a little bit of apathy from adolescents from one generation to the next, but now, it seems especially noticeable.

Why Apathy?

There are researchers who could pull together all kinds of data to help explain it all, but what is the bottom line to their apathy? Should we do anything about it? What can we do about it?

Let’s consider and evaluate our own sense of apathy in our walk with Jesus coupled with our approach to youth ministry. Is this just a job now? Is it just what we do on Sunday or Wednesday? Are our faith and our work with students just what we have decided is a normal weekly habit and not something super special we are blessed to be part of?

Let’s consider what it feels like we are competing with. We don’t give out awards or medals. We are typically nowhere near as flashy as concerts and other fun stuff such as select sports, food trucks and specially blended sno-cones. The students know the church has existed for thousands of years and will most likely always be around for them if they want it or need it. Maybe students like doing the other stuff that they think may disappear on them in their short “young years” and then maybe come back to the things of faith after that?

Let’s consider their fear of investment in something they really just can’t “see” the benefit of.

There could be a thousand reasons why students are apathetic toward walking in Jesus or engaging with church but there are a few solid practices we could use to help combat that.

1. Commit to practicing fervent prayer and favorable patience.

2. Remember that it’s not about you but instead, it’s about them.

3. Commit to spending more time in fellowship of the motivated while still loving well the apathetic.

What if we began to pray with patience and stout faith for our own journey as well as our students?

What if we schedule it in our phone and make it happen?

What if we actually did remember we are not the cause of the rise or the fall of apathy in our students?

What if we found just one student interested in going next level and we went there with them?

As Andy Stanley famously put it, “Do for one what you wish you could do for all.” We won’t be able to completely give all of ourselves to all of our students but we can commit to doing much for one.

Focusing on the Motivated

Let us consider if we should spend more time focusing on the motivated rather than apathetic students, while still praying for them, and not giving up on them. If we consider a focus on students who are wanting to grow, we will notice this is a very powerful tool for growing our ministry influence. When a motivated student becomes well led and less apathetic, they tend to bring others with them. Instead of students saying about church, “I don’t need that right now,” we may see them saying, “I need what they have!” as they observe those we have been able to invest in. Don’t give up youth worker! Don’t become apathetic! Pray, Love, Lead!

Lee Coleman has been a youth pastor for over 23 years and enjoys serving Dallas/Fort Worth as well as traveling the country sharing Jesus’s message of hope and freedom to children, teenagers, college students and adults. Lee is currently on staff with Waxahachie Bible Church along with being the Lead Character Coach for WISD athletics. Besides these roles, Lee also  helps people and organizations grow in efficiency and excellence through personal and organizational coaching facilitated through the group “What’s Next? Coaching and Consulting” of which he is the founder. Lee and his wife Melanie, have four kids, Caleb, Faith, Marigrace and Lilly. Follow him on twitter when he remembers to tweet @LEECOLEMAN.


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.