APATHY

Preface to Email From Hell

Dear Christian Students,

E-mail is truly an amazing and funny thing. For example, somehow I “accidentally” received this e-mail memo from . . . HELL! It is from a high-ranking general in Satan’s evil army—a demonic warrior named Ichabod—and is written to the demons who have been strategically assigned to Christian students like YOU! I’m not sure how this message ended up on my computer—except for the fact that maybe one of God’s angels intercepted it and somehow sent it my way so I could share it with you in this Bible study booklet! I wouldn’t be surprised if I start getting these e-mail memos on a regular basis! If I do, you can count on the fact that I will inform you of the enemy’s tactics—so that you will not be ignorant of his plans to make you spiritually ineffective (II Corinthians 11:3). When you are finished reading, please share it with EVERY student and disciplemaker you know—so they, too, will be on guard against the attacks of the evil one (Ephesians 6:10).

Your partner in Christ for your generation, Bill Allison


Apathy: Try to Put Their Spiritual Fire Out Slowly! 

To: All of my young demons of destruction!

From: Ichabod Ebenezer Beelzebub, General of Sector 666

RE: Our Greatest Threat: Christian Students

As your superior in evil, I must confess that nothing makes me tremble more than THOUSANDS of students praying! I HATE THAT! The thought of the damage done to our side as a result of this makes my scales crawl! It may be months before we recover the lost ground— but recover the lost ground we must!

So, instead of direct attacks on the Enemy from the outside (which has only hurt us and rallied them), I think it is time for a not-so-new, sneakier strategy. I propose a return to the strategy of making student ministries crumble from the inside out! Since each of you has been assigned to tempt, discourage, and frustrate Christian students in youth groups all over the world, I want to encourage you to influence them to do various “innocent” acts of destruction—with the hope that we can actually get Christian students to hurt the work of God for us! For the next several months, I will guide you with specific pieces of advice about how to help Christian students ruin their lives and youth groups.

Lesson #1: Apathy is a Demon’s Best Friend! 

One of the most important and effective weapons we have in the battle with Christian students—especially those Christian students who have grown up in Christian homes—is apathy. That is, some Christian students don’t REALLY care about God or building His kingdom! As a lord of Satan himself, I rejoice in EVERY Christian student who is lukewarm! Anything that makes the Enemy vomit must be good for our side (see Revelation 3:16)! However, a growing number of Christian students are becoming radicals! They love God and are actively working to tell other students about God’s love. THIS MUST BE STOPPED! Somehow, we must work to take the edge off these radicals and lead them down the slippery slope of apathy!

This is why the Enemy has so many of His volunteer and full-time workers in what He calls “youth ministry.” He knows youth ministry is the most strategic mission field in America! This 85 percent is a frightening statistic indeed—and frankly, this is something the big boys in Hell have been working on for years—but with very little success! Furthermore, around 44 percent of all people who trust Christ as their Savior do so because of the witness of a close friend or relative! So, if Christian students ever get serious about impacting their non-Christian friends for Christ—we are most certainly doomed! Why? Because non-Christian students are receptive to the gospel—especially when it is presented by a trusted Christian friend! YIKES! This should have you more than a little concerned! At ALL costs, don’t let students catch a vision for reaching other students!

Apathy Generator: Busyness! 

How can you stop the radical Christ-following students? Let me offer the following apathy-tactics that we are currently using with some success. Once students reach the junior high/middle school years, encourage them to get overly BUSY doing things that are good—but not necessarily what is BEST! The goal here is to get them busy doing anything except that which is eternally important! You know the old saying, “If the Devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy!” Remember: we work for the Devil—so let’s bury those students in busyness. (It’s working quite well with adults these days!) Get younger students focused on themselves, being popular and cool, and involved in the zillions of good activities that demand all of their time and attention. Good is the worst enemy of best—and if students get so caught up in good things—they will never have time to do that which is eternally best! For older students, focus their attention solely on buying cars, working at McDonalds, and making money for college—all “good” things that can be used to choke their spiritual fruitfulness (see Mark 4:19). Help Christian high school students forget the fact that they only have so many years to be in a youth ministry—lest they make the most of those years!

Note: Getting older students over-involved in work is only effective if they work on Wednesday nights and/or Sundays so they will have to miss Bible studies and youth group meetings! BIG CAUTION: IF students prioritize their involvement in youth ministry activities, the whole busyness approach could backfire on us! Think about it. Students stay connected to a strong, healthy youth ministry—never missing a Bible study. Then they start telling other students they know from all the activities they are involved in outside of the youth ministry about their “AWESOME” youth group. This makes me sick to think of the damage that could be done! So if you choose to lure Christian students into the busyness trap, make sure they get so busy that they cut themselves off from their church’s youth ministry!

When All Else Fails: Romantic Diversions 

If busyness doesn’t make Christian students apathetic about God and their church youth ministries, pull out the big guns and hit them where it really hurts— romantic relationships! When trying to pull radical Christian students out of the life of a vibrant youth ministry, I have found only a few tactics more successful than sending non-Christian girlfriends or boyfriends into their lives! Get a spiritual dynamo guy interested in an open-minded non-Christian knockout of a babe! How many Christian guys can resist this? HA! I love this job! Get that missionary wanna-be of a young woman to date the beer-drinking star of the football team—even just one time! Sometimes it only takes one date—and you’ve got them! HA! I REALLY love this job! Pull them from the fire of other Christians SLOWLY so they cool off just a little bit. Don’t try to take them from hot to cold in one day! Just try to SLOWLY cool them down degree by degree and before they know it—they are spiritual popsicles! This starts by taking them out of the influence of youth ministry—and away from adult youth workers and other radical Christ-following students who really love them. Before long, they stop reading the Bible, praying, and sharing their faith. From there, it is a fast moving ski-ride down to spiritual Iceland.

I have so much more to teach you, my little demons of SLOW destruction, but these suggestions will get you started in the art of creating apathy in Christian students! Slowly and steadily take the spiritual fire of Christian students down—one little degree at a time. Remember: spiritual destruction via apathy is a slow steady leak—not a one time blow out!


Don’t Just Sit There—Do Something About It! 

It is my hope that the articles in these lessons stimulate you to serious thinking and action! The best way to use this booklet is in a group discussion situation. So each chapter will be accompanied by thought provoking Bible study questions you can use for self or group studies.

1. It is important to note that we can’t blame the Devil for the bad choices we make! Think about someone you know who was once a radical Christ-follower but is now apathetic about spiritual things. Perhaps this person is YOU! What are some choices that Christian students make that SLOWLY take away their passion for Christ? How does the slippery slope away from Jesus get started?

2. What can Christian students do to keep their passion for Christ stoked hot and burning bright? Be specific.

3. What do the following verses teach us about how our enemy will try to keep us from living passionately for Jesus?

II Corinthians 11:3 Ephesians 6:10-18

4. What do the above verses teach us about how to fight our enemy?

5. Why might Christian students be more of a threat to Satan’s kingdom?

6. “If the Devil can’t make you bad, he’ll try to make you busy.” Is this statement in any way true in your life? Be specific.

7. In YOUR life, how might GOOD be the worst enemy of BEST?

8. Read Mark 4:1-20. What is choking your spiritual fruitfulness?

9. What “big guns” does the enemy tempt you with? What temptations do you struggle with the most? What is the area of your greatest weakness? Who can you talk to about this?

10. If you were the enemy, how would you plan to attack YOU?


If you’re wanting to prevail against apathy we invite you to enjoy the dramatic audio and share this experience with friends, family time or in your small groups.

Download your FREE copy of the APATHY Email and Study Questions as a printable tool: efh-apathy-handout

 

Want to learn more ways to fight the enemy? We offer two printed volumes (Email from Hell, More Email from Hell) or 10 stand-alone Dramatic Audio editions with companion PDF Training.


© 2017 Cadre Missionaries, Training Article. CadreBlog, Dramatized Email From Hell Audio, All rights reserved. 

How to choose your next best curriculum

People often ask me for curriculum recommendations. Since Cadre writes, publishes and offers a lot of training, people sometimes think we do curriculum.

But…we don’t.

I get why people ask. Choosing what to teach is a pressing, felt need many of us have as we plan to teach week-to-week…to week…to week.

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Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-curriculum. But Cadre doesn’t write it because we believe disciplemaking is a way of life, and that’s our focus—helping you, as our in-real-life friends, follow Jesus with the people in your life, living sent to make disciples who make disciples. Disciplemaking isn’t meant to be a topic for us to teach for 8 weeks every other year as part of our Christian education rotation.

But wait, don’t close out the window yet!

We can still help.

The truth is, there are many great kinds of studies and resources you can use to cultivate disciplemaking values in your ministy. This is the best one. And I’ll share a few more at the bottom.

But let’s back up for a minute.

While I can share a few resources with you, I’d much rather equip you to choose your own curriculum well. In fact, this won’t be my only post on the topic. But today, I simply want to challenge you to think about the big picture.

Instead of picking a curriculum based on how well it’s designed, how easy it is to teach without much prep, or how many of your friends use it…stop and ask:

  • What does a disciple who makes disciples look like?
  • What head, hands and heart understanding do we want to help develop in people as we seek to make disciples?
  • What are our goals as we aim to make disciples who make disciples?

There are plenty of good studies out there. But unless you have clearly defined goals, you’re probably going to fumble around looking for “the next best thing” to teach every 3-6 months.

Here are some sample “exit goals” to show you what I mean.

By the time children finish Kindergarten, they should…

  • Know the Bible is God’s Word
  • Be able to pray a simple prayer

By the time kids finish 5th grade, they should…

  • Know God helps us overcome our fears
  • Be able to name the books of the Bible in order

By the time students finish high school, they should…

  • Understand God’s design for us to live in biblical community with one another
  • Be able to choose personal priorities based on their relationship with Jesus.

Once adults have experienced this class or group, they should…

  • Know how to lead someone to Christ
  • Be able to live out the one another verses with family and friends

Note that these are just EXAMPLES—they’re NOT mean to be exhaustive. You can view a more extensive list of goals and find practical help as you teach for disciplemaking in Cadre’s Teaching Genius of Jesus.

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If the ministry you’re a part of isn’t ready to come up with goals for all ages, spend some time prayerfully identifying a few simple goals for the group you’re teaching or leading.

Once you know what you’re aiming for, you can find studies that will help people grow as disciples in the areas you’ve identified.

But if you’re still looking for Cadre-style “curriculum,” start here…

  • You can break down our Equip middle school training into weekly bite sizes and plan a lesson around it. There are lots of ideas and creative ways to engage, but there’s no script. You’ll have to be willing to study and share the Scripture together with those you’re teaching.
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And finally, since I told you I would, here are a handful of additional resources I’ve found helpful in cultivating a disciplemaking way of life:

For kids:

Discover 4 Yourself Inductive Bible studies

The Jesus Storybook Bible (and curriculum)

252 Basics

For students:

Dare 2 Share’s Field Guide to Sharing Your Faith

Sticky Faith: 10 Lessons to Nurture Faith Beyond High School

For adults:

Let’s Read the Bible Together YouVersion plans

Prayer that Makes a Difference by Martin Sanders

A Righteous Brood by Hugh Halter

Middle schoolers lead the way in disciplemaking

So often in middle school ministry, we don’t get much beyond games and general early adolescent craziness.

Why?

I contend it’s because we don’t expect much out of middle schoolers. And guess what happens? We get exactly what we expect…not much.

But there is a better way.

Consider the Equip training experience. It’s 2-3 days of encouraging and equipping middle school students to make disciples who make more disciples.

Yes, I said middle school students and disciplemaking in the same sentence.

I know, right?

For some unfortunate reason, middle school students are often regarded as the ugly step-child of youth ministry.

I couldn’t disagree more.

When it comes to disciplemaking like Jesus, I think middle school students can lead the way for high school students and adults.

(Yeah…you’ll probably need to reread that sentence again.) I’ve seen it with my own two eyes. And it thrills my soul.

Okay, let me just say it: After 35 years of youth ministry in a wide variety of settings, I can honestly say Equip is the best disciplemaking training experience I’ve ever seen for middle schoolers.

You and the middle school students in your ministry are missing something very significant if they don’t experience Equip.

equip group middle schoolers

Click here to find out more about giving your middle schoolers an Equip experience.

The gift your students really want

[This post is part of our Batteries Included collection just for people who invest in disciplemaking with middle schoolers. If you’re a youth leader, parent or teacher who spends time with middle schoolers, this is for you. If you’re not—share it with a friend who is!]

Talking with middle schoolers can be overwhelming. I often find myself surrounded by a group of excited girls, all telling me a different story. Sometimes my ears get overloaded as I try to listen meaningfully to all of them at the same time.

In these moments, I’m struck by how deeply middle schoolers long to be listened to, to be valued, to know someone really cares about their lives. These moments make me wonder how often people really do listen to middle schoolers. How often do we, as adults, speak to them with compassion, not just correction or criticism.

The best gift: your ears

As an adult, one of the best gifts you can give middle schoolers is your ears! Here are 3 ways to give the gift of your ears—moving your conversations from casual to heart listening.

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Listen more than you speak.

Listen to the kind of words students use. How do they talk about their families? Their friends? What emotions lie beneath their words? What do they share about how they view themselves?

Do you hear insecurity, arrogance, self-defeatism, confidence? What hopes and fears do they express in their stories, in their mannerisms?

Listening well will provide you a wealth of insight on how to love them.

Ask good questions!

Whether students are naturally chatty or reserved, asking great questions helps students share what’s really going on inside. Sometimes the most talkative students are the least likely to really open up. Filling the air with words can keep others from cracking the shell.

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Look for open-ended questions—ones that require an answer other than “yes” or “no.” Jesus was a master at asking questions like this! Here are just a few from Cadre’s Ministry is Relationships training that will take your conversations below the surface:

  • What is one thing you would love to smash with a hammer if you would not get in trouble for it and why?
  • Who is crazy about you—and how does that person show it?
  • What story do you enjoy hearing your parents or other relatives tell about something YOU did or said when you were little?
  • What is the greatest misconception people have about you?
  • If you could wave a magic wand and have whatever you wished for in any part of your life, what would it be?
  • What do you think God’s opinion is of you? If you could read His mind, what would God be thinking of you right now?

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At ministry events, talk to students more than you talk to other adults.

This is so important. If you spend more time talking with your own friends and peers, students may feel like you aren’t interested in them. While high school students may be more interested in “space” from adults, typically younger ones crave attention from grown-ups. Listening to them is truly one of the best gifts you can give them.

Want to help your team grow in your heart listening skills? Ministry is Relationships is a great place to start. Contact us to find out more.

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Taking a missions trip home

Many of us get excited about the opportunities of summer ministry – especially missions trips. And rightly so. It can be a life-changing experience for you and your students. After we get home, we’re excited about giving even more students an experience in missions.

A world beyond

If you’re like me, you’re constantly wanting to expose your students to the world beyond themselves. Middle schoolers can be self-centered. Thinking of others as more important than self (Philippians 2) is a quality we pray for middle schoolers often—and a missions trip is a great way to help students grow in their concern for others.

And yet…overseas trips are typically off-limits for such young students. Even out-of-town trips can be expensive or beyond parents’ comfort level. Often our churches simply don’t have the funds or leadership in place for a missions trip every year.

But we don’t want our kids to miss out on the exposure, the people, the time with God and the friendships we experienced on a trip. I am different because of these times captured in my heart and mind, and I want our students to experience this change, too. But how do we make a missions trip happen when the church is in a financial crunch or students aren’t able to earn enough money to go?

Taking a trip without the travel

A few years ago, this was the cry of my heart for our students! I spent much time in prayer, fasting and sitting quietly before God, seeking his way for our summer of middle school ministry. And God began to give me the idea for a missions trip at home.

A “Missions at Home” trip costs little money and little of you! High school students, parents and other leaders can simply come alongside you to make sure the experience is one to last a lifetime. That summer God gave me a passion for reaching our community for Christ like never before.

What is your heart’s cry for your students to experience next summer? What is God nudging you to do about it?