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. 

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.

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?

Why our identity matters

[This post is part of our Spiritual Caffeine collection, geared toward encouraging students to grow as disciplemakers.]

I used to be a janitor at a local high school. One night when I was emptying the feminine hygiene boxes in the girls’ bathroom, I came across the wrappings of someone’s lunch: orange juice, container of raspberries, foil wrapper from a sandwich. Seeing this, I stopped and prayed. I also found myself asking: “What would cause someone to hide in the restroom and eat a meal?”

Identity: A look back to Israel’s Exodus from Egypt

God had made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Their descendants were now slaves in Egypt, and God was about to free them in a miraculous way. God speaks to Moses and gives him a message for His people:

“I am Yahweh, and I will deliver you from the forced labor of the Egyptians and free you from slavery to them. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and great acts of judgment. I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. You will know that I am Yahweh your God, who delivered you from the forced labor of the Egyptians. I will bring you to the land that I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you as a possession. I am Yahweh.” Moses told this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their broken spirit and hard labor. (Exodus 6:9)

A promise

Do you see the statement “I will take you as My people, and I will be your God”? God is promising his people that their identity will be anchored to his character—in his identity. Verse nine, however, tells us that they were so broken and with so little hope, they couldn’t even imagine their identity being attached to God himself. But he does it. God is faithful to his promise. He gives these Egyptian slaves a new identity. They are now the people of God.

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Forgetting who they are

Fast forward to the golden calf. It’s a bone-headed move. The Israelites have quickly forgotten the God who loves them and have run into the arms of something else. God has delivered his people, just like he had promised. He is even going to keep his promise of giving them the land of Canaan. But, he tells Moses, “I will not travel among you, for you are a stubborn and rebellious people.” (Ex. 33:3) Remember the promise… “I will take you as My people, and I will be your God.” This is too much for Moses to bear. The promise of God’s presence is more precious than anything else. Having an identity that is anchored in the character of God is too important.

“Then Moses said, ‘If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place. How will anyone know that you look favorably on me – on me and on your people – if you don’t go with us? For your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on the earth. (Ex. 33:15-16)

Finding out who we really are

Just like it was for Moses and the Israelites in the desert of Sinai, God’s presence is what gives us our identity. Our identity is found in the immovable unchangeable character of Christ and the forgiveness he gives. That identity gives us hope when we find ourselves in broken in spirit.

shoreline

It is in the deliverance, freedom, and redemption of Christ that we find our identity—our hope. In the midst of pressure and pain, that hope—that identity will not disappoint. It is anchored in the love of God and sealed with is presence—the Holy Spirit.

“And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” (Rom. 5:4-5)

That night standing in a bathroom stall, my prayer was for hope. I was asking God to help this young woman discover the hope of an identity anchored in the forgiveness of Christ.

My prayer today is for your identity too:

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Rom. 15:13)

God, help us to embrace the hope found in an identity anchored with you and then overflows with hope in all circumstances.