Anyone else read this recent New York Times article?
“According to the Pew Research Center, the proportion of young adults living at home nearly doubled between 1980 and 2008, before the Great Recession hit. Even bicycle sales are lower now than they were in 2000. Today’s generation is literally going nowhere. This is the Occupy movement we should really be worried about.”
The proposition that the current generation of young people is going nowhere and doesn’t seem to care is troublesome. Really troublesome. I’m seriously wrestling with the implications for youth ministry. On one hand I disagree. I see more young people interested and aware of the world’s problems than I did at their age. However, awareness and interest aren’t the same things as action and investment. Today’s youth are certainly aware, but are they going anywhere and doing anything about the issues they are so aware of? Well, are they? Am I? What does this mean for youth ministry in 2012?
This is one of my big frustrations with Short Term Mission Trips, even the ones I have led. We are made more aware and we are given opportunities to volunteer while on the trip, but what happens when we return home? Do we bother making change in our community, or is a Facebook post in protest of injustice and social ills enough?
I believe that we have slowly begun to accept awareness as a substitute for action. I am more aware. I will make you more aware. There. I did my job. The rest is up to someone else. And we accept this. In fact, my generation and the next, take great pride in spreading the news. Disagree? Look at the spread of the now infamous “KONY 2012” video last week. Over 80 MILLION views and counting. One week. 80 million views. Why? We want to change the world, and clicking the “share” button on YouTube or Facebook makes me feel as though I’ve done my job. Ok. I’m sure that’s oversimplifying the issue, but if we’re honest, isn’t that the way we feel? Click the “share” button on Facebook. Use your status update to tell people hat this guy is a problem. Then what? Then what?
For Christians, this should bother us; this should make us unsettled and uncomfortable. The call of Christ – for ME and for YOU – is to care for the least of these, our neighbors, our enemies, our fellow human being. So a generation of kids going nowhere and not giving a rip that they don’t give a rip is a problem.
So what does this mean for Student Ministries? What does this mean for churches trying to reach the Why Bother or Go Nowhere generation?