As someone who works with the next generation, you know the most effective way to make an impact is to go and pour your life into working directly with them. Giving your life to influencing the future visionaries of our society is noble and rewarding, but it’s not easy, in fact it can be outright exhausting and heartbreaking.
the great commission
When the inspiration for your life’s work is motivated by the Great Commission the pressure to make a difference is beautiful, but haunting. We can literally start to believe it’s our job to save people, and while in the process that might sometimes feel true, it’s not, all we can do is create an environment and opportunities for the Holy Spirit to work. God’s Spirit preps the heart and draws people to himself. John says, no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. That is one comforting thing to think about when the stats are not good. Because right now 32% of people aged 18-30 say they doubt the existence of God. That demographic of people are the current and future parents of our society and it’s not like they just don’t think church is relevant, 1/3 of them actually doubt the existence of God. God is not the starting point for a conversation on spirituality for them. 65% of that same demographic say they are not religious.
the dialogue has to be different
Personal preference does not matter. What we’ve done before does not matter. If we are being true to the work that God has called us to, then we have to be willing to think outside the box more than we ever have before. Because if 65% of millennials are not religious, than most likely they are unwilling or uninterested to have a religious conversation to begin with, let alone visit a church or small group type event.
millennials are not the only ones
But they aren’t the only ones in the Next Generation that we are trying to reach. Generation Z, the demographic of kids under 20 (born after 1995), actually makes up 25% of the American population right now. Some sources say, “Generation Z are anti-religion. They refuse a faith that is institutional or legalistic. Highly intolerant of hypocrisy, they are turned off by people who do not walk the talk. They can endorse opinions with a simple “Like” button (e.g., on Facebook) and bring either scrutiny or praise to the Christian faith at incredible speed.”
However, they are human. They are fragile. They are broken and in need of a Savior like everyone else. These facts are not a surprise to God. He is bigger than culture. His power is more transformative than nature or nurture. He is still at work. God is still good.
what can we do?
So we have to ask, how can we reach this next generation? What are some of the biggest issues that stop us from being successful and relevant? How can we think outside the box more than we ever have before? Are we willing to do more than we’ve ever been willing to do before to have a breakthrough? If each one of us would examine our work, our hearts, and be honest about our predispositions and the ways we’ve been closed-minded or lazy, there would be a huge poole of new ideas and techniques, and love and perspective that could possibly change the future. If this resonates with you, then you are someone who should be influencing the next generation. What can you do (despite the daunting statistics) to keep going?
3 tips to influencing the next generation today
1) don’t give up
If you are determined to create change, then you will. But this work requires tenacity, resolve and passion.
2) challenge the box
People don’t like change. We are creatures of habits. But if the next generation has deemed us irrelevant, then adaption is necessary.
3) keep the relationships at the forefront of your work
People make this work complicated, but people make this work worth it. God is at work because of us and that’s the reason we have to do good work too. John Wesley said: “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. – Galatians 6:9