What is a parent to do? What can the church do?
The Most Important Thing We Can Do for this Generation?
Before we address this, let me say that I’ve learned this much. The most important thing we can do for our youth is to let them know we are safe to talk with—about ANYTHING! Instead of acting like the behavioral police of their world, or trying to be an ever-present moral authority, we need to be caring confidants who understand how to be active listeners and humble counselors. What parent wouldn’t want this kind of relationship with their kids?
I recently spoke with my friend Pastor Ron Whitehead, Youth and Young Adult Ministries Director for the Lake Union Conference, about ministering to youth today. He and his colleague, Nestor Osman, Center for Youth Evangelism (CYE) Special Projects Manager, are great people to contact about resources and ideas for ministry to new generations.
Nestor Osman Reflects
Nestor states that “even though the list of challenges youth face is big, the solutions may be simpler than we have expected (although not easy).” He explains…
“A friendly community is essential for young people, not to judge them, but to honestly support them in these challenges. Parents need to be part of this community, and hopefully the local church also. Isolated programs can help, but what young people need is mentorship based on an honest relationship. If they can’t find it at home or church, they will go somewhere else…When I say ‘honestly,’ I’m referring to authenticity. New generations are experts at challenging traditions that we didn’t challenge in the past. And the notion that ‘we don’t make mistakes, we are Christians,’ that is projected by some church leaders and parents, is not helping. In other words, it is not helpful when we demand from new generations things that they can’t see in older generations.”
Resources You Can Use
Barna Group is probably the main authority when trying to understand new generations, even if Barna doesn’t provide a “what-to-do list.”
Some programs with principles and ideas for the church include:
A place with articles related to Mental Health is available on the NAD website.
A. AdventSource – For resources and ideas
B. North American Division Youth Ministries – For resources and ideas
C. North American Division Family Life Ministries – For resources and ideas
This is presented by Pacific Union Conference Church Support Services in collaboration with the Center for Creative Ministries.