As you may know from previous blogs, this year I will be writing about the importance of reaching this next generation, Generation Z. I have recently released a book, A Letter to the Church and the Next Generation: Spiritual Growth Through the Witness of James, that goes into greater detail and provides exercises at the end of each chapter should you be interested in mentoring a young adult from this next generation.
It is in many respects a broken generation. Not to generalize, but many of this age group under twenty-five are already burnt-out, or at least fatigued and exhausted. COVID and quarantines have taken their toll. So too has violence, homicides and crime. The fear of pollution and climate change undermine their future. Socializing and developing relationships online and through Zoom meetings have not exactly been fulfilling. I haven’t even mentioned various addictions or mental issues but you know the list of grievances … and they go on and on.
In the midst of this generational despair, I hear a call for help. Unfortunately, this younger generation has little knowledge of — and even less interest in — the church. Simply put, the church is not on their radar. You have heard their mantras: “Follow your heart.” “Speak your truth.” “You do you.”
Over the past couple of years questions have surfaced for this generation. Doubt has entered. Confidence is lacking. What do you follow when your heart is broken? How can you tell if the truth you are speaking is true or false? What if you don’t feel like doing you?
See, this is where “spiritual mentors” can be of enormous help, one young person at a time. Consider yourself a life guard. Seriously. You are saving a life, a soul, a young person whose future has been seemingly foreclosed by external forces that are beyond their control.
Grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends and family, are being called into service. All hands-on deck. Listen for not only the cry, but listen to what these young people are saying about their needs, concerns and longings. It is OK to make suggestions, ask questions, and bring their faith into the conversation. There is no reason to be defensive but there is a reason for love.
I am concerned about the next generation and the basic need not for more information but — spiritual formation. As we think about this next generation, it may be time to go back to the basics. Be assured, however, by going back we are giving encouragement, desire, and maybe some laughter, to go forward. Forward in the light and dawning of a new day with all generations and the promise of Emmanuel — God with us. It is a good place to start.
And it is as basic as you can get.