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inertia

Sir Isaac Newton’s Advice For Youth Pastors: How The Law of Inertia Can Strengthen Students’ Faith

See, there is a reason why I call this website an experiment lab for youth pastors.  I thoroughly enjoy looking at the laws of physics and intersecting them with youth ministry.  Granted God engineered these systems (Psalm 19.1)  so I think it is fair to say there is overlap between physics and youth ministry.

My hypothesis:  For the postmodern teen I believe putting them in unfamilar and uncomfortable environments “to do hands on” ministry will greatly test their spiritual maturity.

The Law of Inertia states:  Unless acted upon by an outside force, a body at rest stays at rest and a body in motion stays in motion.

How the Law of Inertia can create spiritual growth in our teens: a student’s faith will remain the same unless acted upon an external force.

Our students’ spiritual life tends to quickly move to “idleness” real fast.  They get saved, they get baptized, they go to church, they follow Jesus’ commandments, then what?  They hit the autopilot button until they graduate.

Many of our students leave our youth group without having a crisis of faith or even having to demonstrate their faith.  I almost think we should manufacture mini-crisis situations that force students to act.  I know this may seem dark and counter-productive, but students are leaving youth group with the same faith they had when they were in 7th grade.  Our students need to be put in environments that apply external force which forces them to test drive their faith.

I think Sir Isaac Newton law of inertia has many corollaries to the spiritual development of a teen.  If Newton was a youth pastor you could almost bet he would apply disruptions in order to produce spiritual growth.  In order to get something to move you have to apply pressure or the spiritual life of a teen will plateau— very quickly.

Applying external force on students’ spirituality requires them to:

– pray to God immediately

– ask God to reveal Himself to them right now

–  test God and see if He will use them

–  heavily rely on God asap

–  exit out of the “comfortable” zone and enter the uncomfortable zone

Applying force puts an urgency on the teen to make a decision of:  Do I really believe this so much that I will act for God?

In Luke 10.1-10, Jesus send out 72 of his followers and said go serve, bless and pray for others in the community.  It is going to be uncomfortable but this is what it means to be the Kingdom of God here and now.

So what are some ways youth pastors create mini external forces that challenge student to act for God?

–  Take your students to apologetic debates between a Christian and an Atheist.  Look at your local colleges or university philosophy departments and see if they have debates happening.  Sometimes they will sponsor religion departments.  Or visit the Stand To Reason website here.  The Stand To Reason guys and gals are from Biola who do the debate thing really well.

–  Take your students on a gnarly 3rd world international mission trip.  My top three picks:  Belize, Haiti and Nicaragua.

–  Invite your students to fast together as a group for more than 30 hours.  The go to event is the 30 hour famine.

–  Randomly start asking students to share their testimony in youth group.  Giving students to talk to other students why Jesus changed their life is so important.

–  Once a quarter randomly select a few nights where you invite your students to go out to the local community and pray for people.  

–  Start practicing hour long solitude times during youth group programming.  Awkward silence creates such an opportunity for the students to search their hearts and the scriptures while asking God what He is doing in and through their life.

–  Visit other churches that are completely opposite in style.  The goal is to find churches that are so different than yours that make you uncomfortable.

–  Invite students to pray out loud in multiple settings at multiple times.  And no I am not talking about asking a student to pray for the meal.  During pray request time, ask a student to immediately pray out load for any student’s request.

–  Find areas of need in your community and serve them.  After the serving encourage students to pray for them.

If you are wanting to apply the law of inertia in your youth ministry, here are some guidelines:

(1) Youth pastor must brief and debrief with the students.  It is important to always walk students through what to do and what just happend.  It is going to be uncomfortable for them to move in a new spiritual direction, so make sure to explain why and how and allow room for them to process out loud.

(2)  Document everything.  Record (both audio and visual), take pictures and write everything down on what happen and how it happened.

____________________________________________________

Is it ludicrous to import the law of inertia into our youth group programmatic structure?  Why or why not.

What are other practical ways the law of inertia can help the spiritual life of teens?

 

 

About Jeremy Zach

Orange XP3 Specialist | Youth Worker | MDIV | Hot Sauce Addict | Dr. Dre Beats Lover

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One comment

  1. Zach,

    Good stuff. I agree with the hypothesis, and reasoning. I have a small issue with the phrase “engineer a mini-crisis”. I’m with you, I just think that may be too open of a concept, and give room for us to feel like student’s growth is a lab experiment with “controls”. I know you aren’t saying that, but it leans that way. I do agree that we need to intentionally place students lives on a trajectory to intersect with what God is doing (did you see how I combined Blackaby with physics there? huh? huh?) Pragmatically, what you’re calling for is spot on. Now, if I get to use a bunsen burner to induce movement in some of my students, well, then I’m all in man!

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