Facing an Awesome Angry Mob



By Matt Williams

Don’t you love it when your youth group suddenly turns into an angry mob? I sure do! (Note: sarcasm.)

You would have thought that I uttered some blasphemy about Zane or Selena or Taylor, or that I announced the cancellation of our Fall Retreat, or that I thought the local NFL quarterback was over-rated. No, my words were apparently worse than any of these scenarios in the minds of the youth group. In an instant, my simple words turned the youth leadership team into a frenzied ball of indignation and outrage. And please don’t think me a poor youth minister, but I confess that I enjoyed watching it happen.

What was my sacrilege? What made me glad I had hidden the pitchforks and torches? What was the unspeakable thing that I said to my student leaders? It was this simple question: “Are we sure we want to do the 30 Hour Famine this year?”

While I remain a great supporter of the 30 Hour Famine and of World Vision, I noticed some signs of complacency from my students at our last Famine event. And it is predictable that this would happen. After all, our church has done the Famine for sixteen years now. None of the youth can remember a time where the Famine was not part of our parish life. To paraphrase a line from the character Syndrome in the movie The Incredibles: when every year has a special Famine event, it is easy to perceive that none of them are.

So, I asked the unspeakable question. I pointed out all that had been done, and asked if it was time to change our involvement and support something new. After all, World Vision has lots of different ways for youth to make a change in the world around them. And I highlighted the fact that it was getting harder to find youth willing to commit to the planning team that puts our Famine together. Was it time to stop doing the Famine?

Immediately after the question of my sanity was put to rest, the youth began articulating their reasons why the Famine was important. “We know it makes a difference for so many people.” “Everybody does the Famine, even the people that don’t come to youth group that much.” “There are still hungry people, so we still have work to do.” “Besides, the Famine is fun.” And after they concluded their defense of continuing our Famine tradition, they started contemplating ways to fire people up about the Famine this year.

It made my spirit happy to see the youth respond in the way they did. It would have been the easier path for them to switch to some cause that was new, or easier still, to just stop doing anything at all. But these young people jumped in and rallied to speak up not only for themselves, but for all of the people who remain hungry each day. I doubt you could find better evidence of the impact the 30 Hour Famine has on the teens that participate than their reaction to my unspeakable question! Neither could you find a more faithful response to the call Jesus makes to each of us when it comes to loving “the least and the lost”.

That’s why I loved the angry mob. It was a passionate response to something too many people are complacent about: the fact there is hunger in this world. I am glad they got angry when it was suggested we stop trying to do something about hunger. I pray that my youth always have this passion to fight hunger. And I pray that yours do too.