Understanding the Next Generation: (Workshop notes from TDC 2013)

1. Media – the media is raising and shaping our youth

  • Hollywood and Advertisers are selling a world-view of values, attitudes and behaviors.
  • Pop culture is becoming their spiritual compass.
  • There is no capital T truth – lady gaga- I was born this way;  yolo- you only live once!

2. Technology – Time on technology is so high it is scary

  • Some stats:  8-18 yr olds exposed to 8-10 hours of media/technology a day in a variety of forms and obviously some all at the same time!
  • If you text, or post on facebook or instagram, you will get an immediate response
  • Texting is teenagers choice of communication. You can call them – they not answer – text them and get a reply immediately. They text each other in the same room!
  • Access – available 24/7
  • Question?- google has the answer
  • Technology actually isolates us from family and community.  Book: together alone

3. Family

  • 1950 – married couples represented 78% of all households
  • 2010 –  married couples represented 48% of all households
  • Only 20% of households are traditional families — married couples with children.
  • Every 45 seconds a marriage ends in divorce – with it stability; model of commitment
  • 9 states have legalized same-sex marriage – more to be proposed
  • Stats for boys and girls being raised w/o father in the picture are very tragic        (From crime to academics (incarceration, drug, alcohol, teen pregnancy, depression)
  • Interesting: family unit circle dinner table; then a semi-circle in front of TV; now all individual circles – even if in same room! (headphones, watching/using own media)

4. Individual

  • 1 in 5 adults (20%) & 1 in 3 – 30 and under say they have NO religious affiliation (not atheists – just uninterested in joining organized religion – Called NONES – Pew Research)
  • The Pew report suggests that these religious trends are likely to become more pronounced in the future.

Big Next Gen Issue:  Walking away from the faith

70%  youth are walking away from the faith because:

  • Don’t know why they believe what they believe
  • Didn’t feel they could ask questions along the way
  • Didn’t understand God- think Christianity is about a list of do’s and don’ts
  • Adapted a gospel of sin management- consequence oriented, like a jacket- take it on and off based on what they are doing.

30%  youth stay with their faith and continue walking with the Lord because:

  • #1 reason researchers tell us – they had a mentor – walking along side them.
  • Parents are still the most influential in their lives but mentors are critical.

Disciples are not mass-produced they are hand-made one person at a time.

Job 42:5 – I’ve heard about you but now I have seen you! AMEN!

CBS is the ANSWER to this problem!

  • Students in God’s WORD for themselves – seeing God jump off the page to them.
  • Learning to look for answers, messages and guidance in His Word.
  • Safe to ask questions, express doubts, get prepared for the rug to get pulled out.
  • Mentors come alongside! Bible Study is what we do, shepherding is how we do it!
  • We offer: A caring adult cheering them on, encouraging them to grow spiritually on their own, supporting them during difficult times, listening to them, excited to see them, believing in them, interested in their lives, safe to talk to, someone who leaves voice or text messages “just because I was thinking of you.”

What Do Students Value the most?

  • Acceptance – safe place to be who they are; the freedom to ask questions, feel valued
  • Fun – No demands. No pretenses. Just be a kid – whatever their age.
  • Friends – Existing friends, make new friends. Spend time with others that believe what they do and are trying to live life for Jesus.
  • Peer pressure-free environment.  Tough as always.
    • Back in the day= a verbal invitation to do something that both parties knew was wrong.
    • Today= an invitation, often through social media, to get involved in behavior that is twisted and demeaning and evil, but the overwhelming majority of peers think is normal and right.
    • The results are plastered all over social media before during and after.
    • Nice to have a place where the pressure is gone, but it is still a cool and enjoyable place to be!
    • To be taken seriously – valued for their opinion, free to share life- problems and successes, to know that they matter, are heard, valued and prayed for.

We all have a need inside us put there by God to KNOW who we are, if we matter, where we fit in. Our students – the Next Generation must find these answers or they will KEEP SEARCHING in the wrong places!

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