I was reading a post in the Kentucky Youth Ministers forum on Facebook by fellow youth minister Paul Rhodes and got inspired for this blog post. In the post Paul talks about generational gap and how older generations in the church have a hard time connecting to the hurts of the current generation. I couldn’t agree more!
A few years ago I preached a sermon on Youth Sunday at our church called “Generation Why?”. Mainly because all of my kids at the time belonged to Generation Y but also I wanted to ask the question of “Why”. Why can older generations in the church not relate to teens now and what are some of the hurts they deal with. We opened to showcase not only why the older cannot relate to the younger but also the younger cannot relate to the older. We played a clip of “the Twist” song and you could see the older peoples face light up! They remembered that song from when they were kids. Then we played a clip of the song “Stanky Leg”. Instantly there was a change in demeanor in the older people! Is there anything wrong with the generational gap? Absolutely not! I wouldn’t want my grandmother rocking out to Skillet or Disciple, she might break a hip! Generational gap is just a constant in society and something that must be understood.
As youth ministers it is our responsibility to bridge that gap. To teach the older generation to care for the hurts of the current generation and to teach the younger ones to respect the older generation and learn from their mistakes. Isn’t that the job of a pastor anyway? To teach his flock about what happened 2000 years ago and why it matters? Something happened in the 1950’s that caused our American culture to idolize it. I’m not sure if it was the financial prosperity of the time or the technological advancements that were occurring but something stuck. We cannot shake loose this feeling that society would be so much better if we reverted back to the 1950’s. I get sick every time I hear someone say that “Nothing good has been made since the 50’s.” Really? My phone is smarter than half of the stuff made back then! Was it a great time to live? Yes! Was the world a safer place? Absolutely! Can we go back in time? Nope! In some ways, especially in rural areas, the church is still stuck in the 50’s. We try to deal with the hurts of teenagers like they’re wearing poodle skirts and the only bad thing we have to keep them away from is dirty dancing and smoking cigarettes. Afraid not my friends. Society changes at a way faster rate than we’ve ever dealt with before and we must keep up and know the issues that teenagers deal with. Now a days when a kid gets into a fight at school it’s a major deal because school is now their center of societal interaction. When they get home they enter the world of digital society, meaning teens do not interact with other teens on a physical level outside of school that much. So when there is conflict at school, at the only physical level of human interaction some teens get, this is a MAJOR problem. A major hurt that must be dealt with. When most older generations were teens by the next day the fight was forgiven and forgotten.
I recently had an interaction with an older gentlemen at the church. He stated he met a teen downtown that stated he was Atheist. He couldn’t understand why! I asked the older man why was he a Christian? He gave me a detailed testimony, then I asked why he attended church when he was a kid, because that’s where he was saved. He stated because if he didn’t his parents would have busted his tail! I said well this kid is like some many others of his generation, they were not raised in church. He probably had no idea what church was really like, what Jesus was even like. I told him the next time he saw that teen to ask why. Why are you Atheist? What brought you to that decision in your life? What are your hurts? Then very simply explain why you are a Christian. One important step in dealing with the hurts of teens is to say, “I may not understand why this is a big deal to you BUT I can tell it is a big deal. Let’s talk about it and get it out there.”
Until next time! Just keep swimming!