Speaking with the younger generation is very interesting. I love it and am terrified by it all in the same breath.
I love it because I find this generation to be hungry and searching for something to hang on to.
I’m terrified by it because it seems to me there’s an ever-widening chasm between the mature folks in the church and the younger generation. Plus, I’m not “young!” Let’s be brutally honest, I’m a 56 year-old, overweight, no piercing or tats, not so cool guy. So, every time I speak to the younger generation I’m wondering if the chasm has grown so far apart that they’re just going to tune me out!
God’s been gracious so far and that hasn’t happened, yet.
One thing that seems to be timeless is that many kids are hungry for truth! They’re sick of getting the spin most adults put on important topics, all because these adults don’t have a foundation themselves.
On one of my most recent trips I had the opportunity to spend some time with quite a number of 20 year olds. To say that they asked good questions would be an understatement. To say that they weren’t interested in the Bible would be a lie!
As they were talking I was paying attention so I could learn from them. I wanted to hear from them first hand. I wanted to hear where they’re spending their free time, what they’re watching, listening to, and what games they’re playing. During this time there were a couple of things that I noticed.
First, these were really good young men and women. They were respectful and thoughtful. Not like some of the college age youth that I’ve run into before who are just looking to fight or “stir the pot.” They were genuine and sincere and their questions very direct and specific, and almost every of them professed Jesus Christ as their Lord.
Second, they’re watching and playing media that is totally distorting Christianity and biblical truth. TV shows like “Supernatural,” “Lucifer,” and “The Walking Dead” give very false depictions of Christians and Christianity. In the TV show “Lucifer” we find the devil to be the cool, good-looking guy, with a great accent, who hates liars! You’re joking, right? He’s the father of lies! No, that’s how he’s depicted.
Galatians 6:7-8; Rom 12:1-2
Remember, most of these young men and women have a basic understanding of the Bible and Christianity, and they had a LOT of questions and confusion.
Now think about this. We have a biblically illiterate culture. For many, their only understanding of the Bible and Christianity comes from these shows and games like “Fight of Gods” where Jesus battles, Buddha, Odin, Athena, Zeus, or Moses among many others. How could we ever expect them to NOT be confused?
During one of the Q&A’s one young man, who had sat there for about 20 minutes without saying a word, raised his hand and asked a question. It was about dinosaurs and the age of the earth. This led to another question about carbon dating, which led to a question about death and suffering. It was rapid fire and all of the youth were paying attention and engaged.
After this barrage of questions, which took about 15 minutes, the young man raised his hand again. I called on him and he said, “Why don’t we hear this kind of information on the news?” I gave him an explanation for why I felt this information isn’t popular with the mainstream and told him to be prepared. If he were to share this with his friends, he’d probably be ridiculed, so he better be prepared if he wants to take a stand.
You see, even the “good” Christian youth are watching shows, playing games and are exposed to information that causes them to question their faith. The fact that we, Juan, Bob, and myself, have opportunities to look this next generation in the eyes and challenge them in their faith is such an amazing blessing.
If you have a hope of combating the failure rate that we have in the church with youth, it will be by taking on the issues that they’re struggling with straight forward.
One young man spoke with me after this was all over and was so encouraged. He told me how this made so much more sense than what he’s learned in school. He was such an encouragement. He wasn’t the only one though. When it came time for us to eat lunch, all of the youth called us to their table so we could answer even more questions. They wanted us to be with them and pour into them. It was so beautiful to see this type of hunger for the Lord and His Word.
As a matter of fact, the response was so big that the church has already decided to book Juan and I back next year! The Pastor told us how the deacons were already asking him, “What can we do? Our youth are so fired up, we have to do something to keep this going!” So, we’re working it out that the youth in their youth group can take our Academy of Hope classes, which are starting in January!
We’re praising God and thanking you for allowing us to do ministry. Yes, I’m still nervous as all get-out when speaking to youth. But, by God’s grace and with His mercy that’s what I’ll be doing until He calls me home or returns Himself!