I’ve been learning some important new lessons about today’s teens… First and foremost among them… ASSUME NOTHING ABOUT THEM…
Our next generation (called by some the Millennial) is not like any before it in recent history. They are careful to consider before accepting values about life, faith and family. Unlike the generations previous, they seem much more cautious in general about embracing any “ONE” world view. They may dress ragged, sport some piercings and tat’s, but despite their hair color and style…they are deeply curious about spirituality and faith and life. Don’t give into the temptation to judge this book by its cover…
Given our saturated media culture, their attention requires extra efforts to focus. Entertainment has become a primary motivating factor or value in their lives and as a result any parent, teacher or pastor seeking to engage them in meaningful communication will need to plan on implementing media to some extent in the process.
For parents… Millennials will most certainly take longer to make up their minds about their faith, God and family…but when they finally do. Lookout! Unlike the boomers they will commit deeply and intensely pursue what they feel is true. (i.e. Green movement, Human Rights, Animal advocacy etc..)
My encouragement… be patient, be real. Take your time and don’t seek to answer every question with a “well-rounded” biblical quote. Instead, offer them a hard look at your real life as a Christian with real challenges and trials and pain. They are stronger than any generation before them, and they not only can handle the truth, but they demand it.
As a parent and a pastor, my heart is growing for this generation… I see them as a potential “JOSIAH” Generation for my faith. King Josiah was twelve years old when he started to reform the nation of Israel into a covenant keeping kingdom of Peace and Faith. (Find out more in the Old Testament – II Chron 34) He led the adults in the recovery of the “Bible” (or book of the Law”) as the center piece of the values and principles of life. He re-directed the government resources to build up the Temple and to cleanse their culture from the moral decay of generations. His heart was “turned toward” God, and it was a powerful testament to the ability of God to skip a generation of leaders when the majority of an adult faith population fails to embrace and pass on the life principles of God as intended.
I believe it is quite possible we are seeing a new movement of sincere and authentic teens who are much less interested in following our lead into the future, and much more interested in seeking God for themselves. As leaders in this time, our dilemma very well may be to engage them with the principles behind the word and mentor them into a stable and consistent pursuit of the Faith for themselves… WITHOUT loading them with the baggage of some of our comfortable evangelical traditions.
Peace and Grace as you lead in your homes, churches and schools. But remember… it’s very possible that this Millennial generation is teaching us as much as we are ever going to teach them.