Each generation whether by force of habit or driven by a nostalgic feeling, loves to speak of what would happen “back in my day”. Usually, when one of these flashbacks occurs, a twinkle will appear in the eye, the chest swells and a two- hour lecture of their youth is to be expected. At times it is quite entertaining to hear of the exploits of yesteryear and it can be really engrossing to imagine this titular character navigate the minefield of life, but there is one stinging reminder of how the present is viewed. An automatically assumed moral high ground stance is laid out and the current generation is usually seen as lost because of one obscure reason or another.
Making the assumption that a new generation starts every 17-21 years, approaching the youth of today- meaning approaching anyone that you have a 17+ age gap over, will seem like a challenge. You have experience and an appreciation for Christian art; they will have more access to knowledge and technology and so both sides will want and demand respect but none will give it first. Here lies one root cause of the divide between the Church and youth of today.
Keeping in Step with the Times
Placing extensive pressure to go to church and to keep the Lord’s commandments as they appear in black and white will not work. Youth feel disconnected because of their easier access to higher learning and at times the Church will seem as an antiquated system designed to constrain rather than teach. Becoming more educated allows for persons to think in ways previously outlawed by the Church. Most importantly when these thoughts are posed as questions, the rebuke given while strong, usually does not answer the underlying question in any satisfactory way.
Setting the Gold Standard
Understandably the Church cannot change with the world, nor can its standard wane and flux in the same manner of the world. If the Church is to be seen as God’s chosen people and a Royal Priesthood, it must be a strong and sturdy Rock of the Ages. Since the doctrine cannot be changed, how then can the youth be reached?
It starts with personal behavior and understanding that today’s youth can see, understand and interpret your actions at an earlier age. They are not blind and should be respected as individuals at an earlier age. Having greater worldly knowledge does not equate to greater spiritual wisdom, therefore the bible has to be broken down into bite- sized bits to ensure that the proper nursing in the Lord is happening. One simple measure of this is being able to quote His word, but that cannot be the only way. Cramming large volumes of information is quite standard for the youth of today so the Bible may just be crammed too without being understood. A way of measuring spiritual wisdom is the behavior during times of trouble. Does the person wail at calamity or travail in prayer?
Photo by Aaron Burden