I’m in my 26th year of seminary teaching, so I’ve been working with young people for many years. Over the years, my sense is that this generation has changed. Here are some changes I’ve seen:
1. They show a stronger desire to be part of a multigenerational church. They genuinely want to hang out with older people and learn from them. They don’t see older believers as old-fashioned; they see them as wise.
2. They want mentors to help them walk with Christ and lead their families. Requests for a mentor are some of the most common requests I hear among young people today. They know they need guidance in life.
3. Yet, they are less relational in a face-to-face way. That, I think, is because their relationships are based on texts, emails, and instant messages. They carry on conversations without spoken words and without anyone else in the room.
4. They are more open to attending churches with a traditional worship style. They like a return to yesterday, a “retro” experience in worship as long as it’s done well. They even like hymns—if they are theologically strong and well sung.
5. They are more open to serving with churches in the Bible Belt. That’s a significant change from students years ago who had no interest in returning to the lifeless churches of their hometown. Now, they see the same places as a mission field.
6. They’re more willing to ask their questions, even if those questions suggest doubt or wondering. They live in a culture that questions almost everything Christian. They want to know why we believe what we do and do what we do—including why we trust the Bible is God’s Word. “We’ve just always believed that way” doesn’t work for them.
7. They’re less informed about what’s happening around the world. That’s odd, since they have almost immediate access to global news. They simply don’t share the burden to be aware of the world beyond their own. That’s problematic, in my opinion, because it leaves them uninformed.
8. They prioritize time with genuine, life-on-life small groups. The small group is their primary connection to their church, and they really do share life with others in the group. There, they find friendships, accountability, service opportunities, and prayer support.
So, what does this evaluation say to leaders of a church? We need to invest in this generation, model genuine faith, answer their questions, and help shape them for God’s glory.
Posted on March 1, 2022
Dr. Chuck Lawless is a leading expert in spiritual consultation, discipleship and mentoring. As a former pastor, he understands the challenges ministry presents and works with Church Answers to provide advice and counsel for church leaders.
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I approach this from living in the Northeast where things are different.
2. Many don’t have families and so for this reason they are 2nd and 3rd class Christians.
6. They’re more willing to ask their questions, even if those questions suggest doubt or wondering.
The same question might be posed to a Buddhist spiritual advisor, priest, rabbi, and humanist. Questions are often asked online anonymously. Christian answers were often trite and seemed dumbed down. Not good.
7. They’re less informed about what’s happening around the world.
I think they are more informed. They want to know why churches aren’t involved in helping fix problems around the world. They will work with any group trying to help, religious or secular and then wonder why you don’t care.
With all due respect, I would like to ask from where you are getting these because I see the opposite in the cities.
That’s a fair question, Mark. I’m reporting what I’ve seen both in my students and in young people I’ve worked with in multiple churches over the years.