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 constantly battle my tendency to carefully wrap my kids in bubble wrap, packing peanuts, and clearly mark the package fragile. It is a trend that is setting our students up for failure. We are preparing the road for our children rather than preparing our children for the road ahead. As a result, we are raising a generation obsessed with safety.
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.
If you are leading anyone, you need to read. It doesn’t matter if you are leading your own kids in your family, a few students, or hundreds of employees. Leaders read — a lot. What if I read non-Christians thoughts about culture, youth, even the church, took their insights and applied it my ministry?
Given the world we are asking our students to step into, it is increasingly critical that we equip the next generation. Our students are not the future of the church; they are the church. There is no better time for them to get the dirt of ministry under their fingernails. But given the large scale challenges our students are facing even to express their faith, the thought of where to begin can be paralyzing. So I started to think through some of the roadblocks that often stand in our way of being effective witnesses of the gospel and how youth leaders and parents can begin to prepare students for the road ahead.