I am not super worried about the next generation. I am concerned, but I am not worried. For sure we have a crisis on our hands as alarming numbers of students are leaving the church after turning 18 and the youth culture continues to grow darker. But, all is not lost. This summer, around 6000 students came to our campus in Colorado Springs for one of two Desperation Conferences. I watched them worship, pray and seek God and it has renewed my faith in this new tribe of Christ followers. We should all be hopeful. Take a look at my reasons below and even add your own if you wish.
1. They have seen the worst of Christianity but the best of Jesus
The next generation expects very little from their older adult leaders. We have failed them for the most part – promising to live with integrity, but allowing ourselves to become corrupt. The next generation has instead put their hopes in Jesus and has become less impressed with spiritual rock stars. I think that is a good thing. The next generation is not impressed with hype and can spot a poser almost immediately. They appreciate sincerity, authenticity and candidness, but immediately reject flamboyance, arrogance or pride. In some ways, broken leaders have done them a service. The focus was always supposed to be on Jesus and the cross and not on those who could speak or sing well.
2. They love tribe
This next generation will survive and thrive because of their pure devotion to God and to each other. They love and appreciate community. They love tribe. They still struggle with selfishness and believing they are the center of the universe, but they have a deep appreciation for authentic friendships. They love the safety of relationships even at the risk of hurt or abandonment. They place a high value on loyalty and cling to the idea that together they are more powerful than when alone.
3. They have been tempted by the best but have overcome
No other time in America has the culture been more obsessed with sex and possessions. The web, movies and all of pop culture is filled with landmines that can kill, steal and destroy our purity and worship. Yet, a growing number of students are saying no to the intense temptations of our age and have committed themselves to the paths of righteousness. They may smell like smoke, but they have not been consumed by the fire.
4. They are willing to live for something bigger than themselves
It is amazing how many students at New Life have given up Saturdays to serve others or gone oversees to build orphanages and help the poor. They are willing to sleep in tents in the bush of East Africa for weeks or pick up the trash in a poor neighborhood. They have filled our hallways with canned goods so local food banks can be re-stocked. They have said “yes” to the Great Commission.
We should continue to pray passionately for the next generation, but rest assured, there is a new tribe forming that has already decided to live free and change the world.