6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Never before has this simple proverb been more significant and more difficult. Today's young Christians seem to be walking away from their faith in droves. Years of studying various generations has given modern Christian leaders hundreds of reasons, from multiple perspectives. The issues range from worldview, science, and morality, to more modern concerns like gender, racism, and global warming.
Last night our Youth Pastor Marcus presented a short summary of the generation that is currently graduating from HS. George Barna's new study identifies this group as Generation Z (click here for the full Barna Study). They are born between 1999 and 2015. It is very interesting how different this young generation is when compared to the Millennial Generation that we hear so much about.
There is a great deal of information about each of these generations, but because Gen Z is just now reaching adulthood, we are just now learning about what shapes their worldview, their goals, and how they engage in the Christian faith. Pastor Marcus presented a great summary. Click here to download his powerpoint presentation. It contains some very interesting statistical data.
My goal here is not to recap the data and cover the statistics, but to jump to the implications as we consider caring for teenagers in homes away from the structures of the Legacy Church so many of us are accustomed to. Here are a few quick implications:
1. Young People today have fully integrated technology into their daily life experience. Studies show that these young people are spending upwards of 4 hours a day looking at a screen of some sort. Psychologists have begun coining new terms for the anxiety felt by people that are separated from their phones or tablets.
Implication: Parents voices are often drowned out because of the sheer magnitude of voices speaking into the lives of your teenagers. Often they are heavily immersed in various social media platforms. As we consider discipling them, we must consider technological tools that can be integrated into our discipleship processes.
2. Young People today have a drive to succeed in education and career. Most want to achieve financial independence before the age of 30.
Implication: We must model our faith as integrated into our work and life. Giving our young people living examples of what a faithful Christian looks like in modern workforce. They must understand that faithful followers of Jesus are called to work in many contexts and environments. Christian leaders can be professional ministers, but most cannot be.
3. Today's youth have a passion to succeed. This will result in a much higher ambition level than that of their elder counterparts the, millennial generation. This generation will more readily accept leadership mantles. They will rapidly look to fill leadership vacuums.
Implication: We must shape our young Christian students to grow in their understanding of leadership ability. It is likely that many influential leaders will exist in this group. We must work to find ways to empower, trust, equip, and then release this generation to be decision makers.
Lastly we must remember that Jesus is the one calling these young people. He is the one that has shaped the world they live in. We must pray for them. Pray that they will hear HIS voice and follow HIS leading. We must see our opportunity to model a fully formed gospel so they can know what Christian living looks like. We must see that our leadership and influence is greatly needed and our investment in this young generation is one of the most important keys to their long term success.
Jesus said in Matt 24:14 "This gospel of the kingdom will preached as a testimony to all nations, and then the end would come." Perhaps they will finish this task. Let us be the generations that see their potential and speed them on. We cannot afford to let these youth and children grow up without solid leaders who can model what it looks like to love, live, and lead like Jesus. Remember the people who helped us grow, and let's pour ourselves into these young people.
1 Tim 4:12
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.
4 Key Takeaways for Home Church Leaders:
1. Include your students as much as possible. Encourage their full participation in your adult group time.
2. Look for Leadership gifting among your students and when possible give leadership roles to your students. Encourage them to facilitate parts of your meeting. Encourage them to pray to open and close. Encourage them to facilitate the Head, Heart, and Hands portion of your gatherings.
3. Invite them to help organize and administer your group's electronic communications. They also may be interested in helping organize event notices, meeting schedules, or find online tools for personal devotion.
4. Finally give them the freedom to organize student focused gatherings additional to your larger gatherings. Please note additionally, not instead of. These students may be willing and able to launch huddles and gatherings with their own friend group. Do not be surprised if they are able to multiply and expand quickly.