Every time a student goes online, leaves the house, is at school, hanging with friends—in fact, every time they pull out their cell phone, western culture is working overtime to shape and influence their lives on every level. No matter how many shelters or training camps we create, we can't prevent it—even if for a time. So what we know about culture and how we teach students is more important than ever.
Discipling our students requires us to be keenly aware of the digital self that lies behind that student who sits every week in the third row, second seat on the left, the student in the front row who has all the answers, or the quiet kid in back row you see once a month. There is a deeper story to our students than most of us ever imagined possible. But the story is told in places some of us never venture to.
It is easy to think of a new generation as somehow being less than the generations before. It is easy to look at students and label them as lazy, unconcerned with the future, unmotivated, not as smart, soft, etc. And over the last year or so, I have read countless articles and plenty of books raising concern about today’s students. Much of it valid and informative about the state of our youth in light of the gospel and the future of Christianity. But I often think it is far too easy to focus in on the negative that we forget about the positive. I sincerely believe there is an incredible hope with the rising generation. Here’s why.
I love my technology. I am often told that I am on my phone far too much. I love the reminders, dings, and notifications. If I see a little red dot with a number, I have to check it and clear it. But if I—a late GenX’er has become another victim of the sensual allure of the latest and greatest slick tech, then what fighting chance do my children or the students I lead have? Friends, the struggle is real, and it has an impact that goes far beyond just being addicted to the dings and red dots.