NYWC: The Cure for Apathy

Timothy Eldred is teaching, this afternoon, on "Creating a Ministry that Launches Students into Action." His opening line was "Either I'm going to invigorate you this afternoon or infuriate you. And I'm okay with either one."

What he said:

The way we do ministry is flawed, and the way we feel shouldn't matter in how we measure results. What ought to matter is numbers.
Kids aren't apathetic; they just don't care about what we care about. Kids are disillisioned; both kids in and out of the body of Christ. We need to figure out how to help them walk "in their birthrights" as children of God.
We have moments in life that mark us forever. Frequently those are brought about by people who come alongside us in our lives and do/say something really tough.
The Eden story wasn't all about being naked, it was about being alone. Being out of relationship can mean a lack of accountability or absence of guidance.
What we remember isn't Bible study or lesson plans, but by relationships that change lives, and those take time. (Duh. But good to remember.)
God's gifts to us (all of them-- planet, students, Gospel, all that) require stewardship and give us the chance to represent God to His creation and His children.
We don't believe in kids the way God does.
And kids know they have the potential God gave them and get frustrated when they see adults, and ministries, not paying attention to that and investing in preparing them to be what God's planned for them to be.
The way Jesus coached disciples was training them to recognize needs, asking them what resources they had, and sending them out to connect the two. The story he used was the feeding of 5,000.
Our kids recognize the needs around them and one of the reasons they're not doing something about them is because the message they hear about their ideas and possible solutions is, "That's a dumb idea."
Ministry is management. It's about managing time so we're spending the most time building relationships with students. But most youth ministers want to be onstage.
Get out of God's way and get behind God's call for the kids, that they're hearing and we're missing. (The example he used was Samuel and Eli.)

  • God's passion is to be connected to His creation
  • Relationship with God is simply not enough.
  • We need intimacy with God and with others.
  • Revelation requires a response.
  • Response to truth births a revolution.
  • Revolution does not occur without change.


"Because I believe young people can make the same level of commitment to Jesus Christ as adults can, I promise to never do anything in the church for them that they can learn to do for themselves."

In a conversation with a Muslim man on an airplane, Tim asked "Why are Muslim kids more committed than Christian kids?" The answer: "We expect our kids to die for their faith. You expect them to show up and eat pizza."

What I think about it:

I knew God wanted me to go into youth ministry one morning in 1998 when I was a volunteer for a summer day camp program at my church. All the kids arrived and I walked through the group saying hi to them. When the counselors started up with some singing, a whole group of those kids ran over to sit next to me and I realized, "This is what I should be doing." I recognized that what happened was that my attention to them made them ready to listen to me, and what I wanted to tell them was how to be like Jesus. I may not have thought all of those words right that second, but I definitely thought, "This is what I want to do with my life."

After I became a youth minister, I discovered that I was also good at writing program material, and at telling stories up front. I can relate something that's happened to me, or to someone else in our group, to a point from Scripture that Christians need to know. And that's a bunch easier than grinding out phone calls or sending postcards and going to find kids every day, which are relational, time-intensive things that I need to be doing.

This year I am improving my ratio of time out finding kids to office and prep time, (here's sort of a post about it,) and this workshop has been a solid reminder. It also challenged me to get more kids involved in leadership, even if that means slowing down the "progress" we make. More about what that means in my post-convention reflection.

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