Thought Factory Podcast #201 || Going Beyond the Fear of Lunchroom Ovations & Tall Middle School Girls

In today’s episode, we discuss the topic of fear in students’ lives.  Fear surrounds us and our culture is driven by fear.  There is a lot of money in fear.  And some fears are real and justified that go beyond our understanding and personal experience. But fear can also be apparent and rampant in the minds of the students who are a part of the body of Christ.  We discuss where students experience the most fear, how often they experience feelings of fear, and what they fear the most. Are we helping students understand fear and how to grow in faith by confronting fear?  Are we taking the time to explain to students the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives when we are faced with any type of fear?

As we discuss fear, the first thing that comes to mind is scary movies.  How many enjoy watching scary movies?  When we fill our minds with scary movies, they cause our minds to play tricks on us, playing on fear.  We can tell ourselves things are not real, but after viewing a scary movie, our first reaction to the darkness, shadows, strange creaky sounds, things around corners and under beds seem to be irrational but birthed out of fear.  Our minds immediately think the worst.

Fear affects us all differently, and we all fear different things.  We are not diminishing fears, but fear appears to have become more prominent in the Church, especially in the lives of students.

In our national survey of nearly 3000 students, we asked them about the topic of fear, how often they feel afraid, and what causes the most fear or anxiety.  Here are their responses:

How often do you experience feelings of fear?

Several Times a Day // 16%
Daily // 26%
3-5 Times a Week // 37%
Few Times a Month // 20%
Rarely if Ever // 1% (.7% rounded up)

Forty-two percent of students experience fear on a daily basis or more.  Less than 1% said “rarely,” which is about the lowest response of any question we saw in our research. We think that not only is fear something students experience, they are also well aware of its presence in their lives.  We also think this is significant, as they are self-aware of this reality.  Where are students afraid?

What environment causes the most fear/anxiety?

Home // 20%
School // 71%
Work // 9%

The school is the number one environment that causes the most fear.  We discuss the school environment further in the second podcast of season 2, but for Christian students, it is not the fear of what others think, as much as they are not sure how to represent their faith at school.

Tune in next week’s episode to hear more on this topic of the school and how their faith can be represented.

Another part of the topic of fear involves the things that we are most afraid of.  We presented only a few options to the students, but out of the following topics, abandonment was the top answer, with loneliness in a close second.

Which one are you most afraid of?

Darkness // 12%
Loneliness // 28%
Abandonment // 31%
Meanness // 7%
Other // 22%

1 in 3 students in your ministry fears abandonment.
They are often abandoned from their parents or close loved ones.  Are we, as youth workers, providing as much stability as possible?  They may have complete instability and you may be the only pillar of stability in their lives.  The excitement and anticipation a student may have when arriving at your youth ministry each week may come more from knowing they will consistently see their adult leader than the creativity you put into the program or listening to the message/worship.

The tenure of the average youth worker is often claimed to be 18-months.  This may be true for some, Group Magazine studied this stat in 2012 and instead came up with the average of 3.9 years.  Whether we are at a church for less than 2 years, 4 years, or other, we are not typically sticking around for the long-haul.  Are we empowering adult leaders to outlast us in the local church, so we can provide consistency in students’ lives beyond our tenure?

Are we empowering adult leaders to outlast us in the local church, so we can provide consistency in students’ lives beyond our tenure?

Are we empowering adult leaders to be involved with students in a deeper relationship?

As youth workers who are present every week, which may seem monotonous, may ask the question, “Am I making a difference?”


It is important these students have continuity and stability within your youth ministry.

More than 1 in 4 of your students fear loneliness.
How often do we share with them the teaching about the presence of the Holy Spirit?

We can be so focused on sharing who Jesus is and who the Father is, and the relationship between them without ever acknowledging the Holy Spirit.

Do we acknowledge the Holy Spirit when there are moments that are evident of its presence?

The Holy Spirit is the least understood of the trinity, but Jesus mentioned sending an Advocate/Helper/Comforter/Counselor depending on your preferred translation.

The Holy Spirit is present in a community, but also outside of the community.  As believers, we can rely on the truth that we have the presence of the Holy Spirit dwelling in our own lives, especially when we are dealing with fear and loneliness.

Do we model healthy community?  Not just the community of gathering during the programmed time each week, but the community that happens outside of the program.

What is the opposite of fear?  It is faith. Faith and fear are polar opposites, and one pushes out the other.

In 2 timothy 1:7, it states, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

God did not give us a spirit of fear or timidity, as this comes from the world – The Fear Of Missing Out, the news, social media which breeds the fear of comparison or not measuring up.

All this fear drives the economy and affects the church – the body of Christ – as well.  There’s a lot of money in fear, so we are surrounded by fear, and it drives so many things.  Do we recognize this and are we helping students see this in themselves?

We can easily be overcome with fear.  It’s our role to help students confront fear with faith.  Faith leads to courage, which is built on a track record of when God has come through when we experience fear.

Are we sharing with students on how God has come through for us as adults?  The longer we walk with God, the more faithful we see Him be.  God has been with his people throughout time and we have an opportunity to tell students about God’s faithfulness in our own lives.  God tells us to look back and be reminded of what he has done, to remind his people that he has been with them and that should give us a courage.

We can diminish God because the fear can be so strong and we allow the fear to grow in our minds.  Confront this fear with the truth of who God is and what he has done for us.  Trust in the presence of the Holy Spirit.

When students’ faith grows, fear will diminish.  Let’s help students grow in faith by confronting the fears they face.

© 2017, Never The Same