This is part one of a mini series on the knowledge and experience of Jeff Knapp: former drug addict who changed his life and followed Jesus.
Jeff Knapp, the president and founder of Iron & Fire Ministries, has a passion for “forging the next generation.” He mentors, disciples and shepherds young men 15-25 years of age in the metro Atlanta area. For the past eight years, he’s been working with everyone from junior high to college, but his main focus over the past five years has been high school.
When asked about how to relate to teens, Knapp’s immediate response was: “Think that they’re important; if you don’t believe that they’re worth your investment and time, they’ll see it.” Sometimes, mentors/leaders try to make projects out of kids, but teens can tell if you’re trying to fake it. Being yourself with teens “frees them to be themselves.” Knapp says that “most kids aren’t going to think you’re cool, and if you try to be cool, you’ll look dumb.” To reach the kids, be yourself and get to know them each individually. It takes time, but “if you really want to speak into someone’s life, you have to invest in them first.”
“Influence is given by God and it’s only for a time, so you have to be careful how you use it.” - Andy Stanley
Anonymous asked: Surrounded by sin at school, to speak or not to speak? In every class there’s just people talking about sex and cussing and all this other stuff. I don’t know if I should speak up or keep quiet like I have been. There"s never really an opening to talk about Jesus. I really realized how all of this going on today, and it was a pretty bad day. I pretty much kept to myself all day, I felt so unproductive Christian wise. What should I do…Speak? or don’t speak?
I answered: "There’s never really an opening to talk about Jesus" there is your answer right there. That leads me to think that if you were to say something you would be trying to convict them of their sin, and that is simply not your job. That is up to the Holy Spirit.
You can’t change the unwilling. Right now, I would bet that these folks think that what they are on is working out. Hopefully some day they will see that sex, or booze, or approval of others, or whatever they are trying to fill themselves up with, is not working. That is an opening for sharing Jesus. Right now, you would just be trying to convince them that something they think is fine is evil, and that is a tough road to hoe. You are much more likely to piss people off.
One of my favorite stories anyone ever told me was a Young Life staff person said that when he was in high school, his leader asked him one day “do you tell people you are a Christian?”. The guy thought he was about to get some witnessing points, so he said yes and the leader replied “could you…not, because you aren’t helping”. I fear that snapping at classmates about being filthy, filthy sinners would put one firmly in the “people who are not helping” category.
Now if you want to spread Jesus through that school, find the people no one else is talking to, not the ones having loud conversations about how cool they think they are. I guarantee you that your lunchroom has kids who are depressed, who are lonely, whose parents are splitting up, and who think no one cares, especially not God. So you, who are part of His body, go up and strike up a conversation, listen to them, invite them out for a hamburger, that would be something.