Just Shut Up, and Let God Be God

Agonizing Over Apathy

I’ve been in student ministry for a few years now. If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that commitment to an event is not really that important…at least that’s what it seems like from a student’s perspective. Often, my colleagues and I find ourselves burning the midnight oil in an effort to bolster student interest in painstakingly planned events. This lack of interest can, if unchecked, cause grown men to weep like infants who need a nap. The apathy that exists can be infuriating. However, I know it’s not exclusive to student ministry, adult ministry, or even just ministry in general. What do we need to do to get out of the funk?

Love ’em Anyway

The best thing that you or I can do, is love them anyway. I’m in the middle of the next to last day before our community Disciple Now weekend, and I projected my group to be about 50 strong, and as of Tuesday, we had 18 signed up. I have spent a ton of time mulling over how to create excitement and tow these kids out of the pool of apathy they’re in. The answer to this scenario isn’t in having tons of flashy stuff, smoke and mirrors, or the like. The answer is in maintaining, building, and cultivating relationships with these kids so they will see the value in what we’re offering.

No Competition

If we’re honest, we know that when it comes to popularity, we can’t compete for students’ attention or affection. That is actually okay. Jesus never promoted that following Him would be popular or full of affection from the world. He did tell us, however, to go and make disciples as we live life alongside those people.

Bottom Line – It’s not a numbers game

When it comes down to it, sometimes we valuate ministry by the number of attenders we have each week. I swore up and down I’d never do that in ministry. I don’t typically do that on a week to week basis, but when it comes to planning an event…argh! The pressure exists to have as many students as possible come on a trip, attend a retreat or camp, or show up at a local event. That pressure comes from the desire to be “the best” in town. Ask any minister, and if they’re honest, the biggest struggle is attendance anxiety. What we need to remember, however, is that when we’re serving the Lord, building relationships, and reaching outside of our church walls for the Lord, those who need to be there, will be there. Simple as that. If you’ve been faithful to what God has called you to do, then the number of empty seats is irrelevant.

Continue reaching out for those who you know need Jesus. Go outside your comfort zone to find them, even if it means it’s right next door instead of on foreign soil.

Jesus calls us to go, as we go, and make disciples, teach disciples. In doing so, we’ll make disciple-makers. It might be a lonely road, but we’re called to travel it in faith.

Oh, and as of publication of this post tonight, our group sits at 32 students for the weekend. Apparently, they figured out that it’s going to be a ton of fun!

Phillip Whitfield
Phillip Whitfield is a passionate follower of Jesus and a youth pastor, husband, father, and an all around nice guy! When he's not sun tanning on the beach in South Texas, he's studying to teach young people about Jesus and hoping to support parents in raising up their children in the ways of God so that they never depart from it!

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