Challenges Facing Our Youth Webinar
Christ cared deeply for each one that He ministered to, including the youth and children. We are called to the same level of care. Focusing on the areas of values, relationships, fears, and development, this webinar brings to light some of the societal challenges which are faced by our youth today. In each of these areas, we discuss with Bro. Craig Stickling practical ways to bring understanding, hope, and engagement to the next generation of our church.
Challenges Facing Our Youth Webinar PPT
Again, thank you for joining us for our first webinar of the 2019 year, challenges facing our youth. And let me give you a little bit of a background as to where this came from. And it was interesting just a couple days ago, not that long ago, a couple weeks ago, I was speaking with a minister and he and his son were right there beside each other.
And, they were talking about the relationship they had. Their son was a believer at the time and how it seemed like they were in different worlds to some extent, the son growing up in his now early twenties and the father in his mid fifties, and just how different society had been and the world had been.
And yet in the midst of those differences, the father sharing to the point of tears, which is really touching, how much of an impact that son has had on his life and specifically on his spiritual life just giving him a new perspective and really pointing him in directions that he had not thought of before.
And when I thought of that, I thought of the webinar that we’re doing here, where we wanna look at the youth and what is the society and some of the challenges that come up in that society, and what can we learn from that? How can we best address that? How can we be prepared to engage that? That’s our hope, that’s our prayer tonight. We have asked Brother Craig Stickling to join us tonight. He is a counselor there at ACCFS with us and has been also a counselor in the local school districts for 25 years serving in a nearby junior high. And so brings a wealth of experience and background into this topic of the challenges facing our youth.
So with that being said, I’d like to start with a prayer and then I’m gonna turn it over to Matt and Craig and they will share some teaching and discussion for the first half hour or so. And then we’ll open it up to questions. So let’s bow our heads and pray together.
Father, we are so thankful for the opportunity to be here tonight, to gather together across the miles and to learn together, Father. And, we know that Thou does love each one of thy children, but Thou does love each one of thy creation and that Thou has called us to serve and to love and to engage in so many ways.
And Father, we need wisdom to do that. So help us to have an understanding of the times that we live in. Help us to have an understanding of thy Spirit and his teaching to us, and guide and bless our conversation tonight for thy glory and not our own. We pray in Jesus name. Amen.
Well, it’s wonderful to have everyone along and looking forward to this topic.
Looking forward to having Craig speak into it as we begin. Like to set the set the stage with a very familiar story that we have, and that is Jesus taking on his lap, the young ones. Now, I will admit that our topic here today isn’t necessarily for the toddlers.
That’s not really who we’re thinking about, but I was impressed with this story. That Jesus paused in his busy schedule and he found that thinking about the next generation was worth the time. And it struck his disciples a bit odd that the next generation was worth Jesus spending time on like he did.
And I’d like to maybe set this conversation up here on this presentation tonight, up with that and I wonder sometimes if Jesus was holding this little one on his lap thinking, this one’s gonna take the word to Galatia, you know? Yeah. Or, wherever this one’s going. Right? Right.
He was able to see into the future and into the vision and we’re shortsighted sometimes. And, maybe if we had a longer view that would be inspiring and definitely worth time and pause. So like to just set us up with that truth about Jesus. Objectives for tonight is really just we want to inform and we want to equip so there’s gonna be some information shared here tonight. Our youth are growing up with unique societal challenges. And there’s things we should know about that. Now every generation has grown up in unique societal challenges and has largely made that generation who they are. And so we are a bit of a product of our environment in that way.
And so this one is unique as well. And so we wanna speak to that and please note that it’s not all bad. Not all bad. So we hope to hit on that, highlight those things, and then equip. The equipment is what are the tangible ways for ministers and their wives to engage? So, Craig, we wanna bring a little bit of teeth to this to say, Okay, the information’s nice.
What do I do? Right? What does it look like with boots on the ground? And the good news is it’s not all hard. It’s not all hard. So, we’ll really welcome that. So let’s get right into the informational piece. What societal challenges do we look at here?
Craig, I think the most obvious societal challenge uniqueness is technology. Yes. Why don’t you actually start even before that? Give us a little bit of age range here. Who are we talking about?
Well, if we go through the different looks of groups, I mean Generation Z, the Gen Z, they’re right about that 14 to mid twenties right now. So born late nineties to 2010. So it’s kind of the pocket group that we’re looking at. What a great, I mean, this has been amazing group, right? Technology has never been foreign to them. It’s not been a transformational phenomenon like we went through, or some of the next generation where they started and then they grew and they found it they’ve always had it, it has always been in their lives.
Yeah. So technology certainly is a societal challenge. What are some of the other uniqueness? I think late nineties. Mostly 911 has been a residual to them. It’s they have lived in the aftermath of 911, which very much shapes us and really changed America and the sense of securities and those types of things.
So that’s one. You think that they have always lived in a world where terrorism attacks, bombings are common and with technology, they see them all throughout the world happening. And so it becomes really ingrained in them that that’s an unsafe place. What other societal challenges?
Well, an interesting thing is to consider that is, we’re talking about 25% of the population so this is a huge group for us to really have an investment and a care for. Another piece they lived through kind of the tech boom, great recession. So part of this group has seen parents lose jobs lose homes, have to move. They have seen that kind of the challenge, the pursuit of the American dream. But then they’ve also seen what happens when that dream, that desire is crashed. And so they’ve had some hardships as well. And so we’re not gonna spend a great deal of time here. I think another one is a postmodern mindset which has been emerging and been in play for quite a while now, but it’s really coming into its own and is a bit commonplace.
So even ideals and morality and those types of things. Certainly is. So what we’re gonna really spend on here tonight is these societal challenges impact lots of things. We’ve decided to narrow in on four buckets of things to consider. We’re gonna look at, values. It has affected values that this generation has, relationships have been affected, fears have been constructed and development has been impacted. So lots we could say, but these are four that we wanna narrow in on here today. So let’s start with some positive. Let’s start with the values there, Craig. What are some positive values that this generation has that has come out of these systems of society?
Right. Let’s be thankful. Let’s be excited cuz this group, boy, they have so many great attributes and opportunities for them. They have such a desire to be connected they have an insight to accepting differences, probably more than maybe any other group. They’re very accepting of that.
We struggle some with the tolerance element, but they’re very accepting of differences and how to work with those. They tend to fight for social justice and causes in that sense. They’re very optimistic, even with the fear of this unknown, but they also have a pretty optimistic mindset.
They desire to make a difference, but they can make a difference. Right? So they’re optimistic that a difference can be made, that they can be a part of that difference. And, you’re gonna see with those strengths they have sometimes an Achilles Heel to ’em or much another side of the dish.
So, we’ll take a look at those values and, some things to understand this generation. Is there perhaps a major rubric for morality? So there on the screen you can see that these are some major questions that our young people use to discern right and wrong, good and bad. One, is it harmful? Is that harming? The second bullet there, is it freeing or restrictive? So they have this metric or caliber of is what you’re talking about freeing people or is it gonna be restricting to people? And then the last one is it discriminating?
And you mentioned that they really do have a thumbprint or a pulse on discrimination. And that’s a real powerful thing that they are and so here we have, is it discriminatory? Now notice that we can get off into the weeds with these three bullets. But there are some beautiful things about these three bullets as well, right?
As you said, it’s not all bad. There’s some positives in there that we can help grow them into. So, and I think also, Craig, as we look at these three bullets, I think what’s important is to say these are the ones that rise to the top. And I think what’s telling us what’s not here. Does that make sense?
So there are certain, if you think about your generation or my generation, there would be a few more bullets on there, if that makes sense. Absolutely. Of certain right and wrong. And so this is simply information we wanna present the nature of this generation.
Arlan, jump in if you have something you wanna share if we gloss over there. No, I appreciate it. Keep on going there. I’m loving learning. One thing, I guess I will say, just real quick too, I see with this value, you’re, tell me if I’m right, Craig, but you’re gonna see a sense of empathy is gonna be very easy for this generation, this Gen Z to really lean into. They can feel with people very easily and that can be a really positive aspect. If we, if it’s channeled correctly. And even, Arlan, even in the sense of either teaching, whether in the school systems or just even a awareness from media having empathy, understanding empathy is really something that’s taught more intentional than maybe what it was just assumed that you would just catch it over time.
Well, but maybe before we go on, let’s just place our finger on some of the shadows that these provide, Craig? I think one obvious one is freeing or restrictive. We have these sexual ethics, for example, would come to play. Right? Absolutely. Which, this generation, again, and we’re talking very broadly here about this generation might lean towards other conclusions based on that bullet, right?
Yeah. Running their things through the filter of is it harmful and certainly discriminatory would also come into that. And so that’s gonna be one issue that’s gonna have some shadows that need to be illumined, if that makes sense. Right, right. You mentioned something earlier, Matt, about what that element of truth, and I think that’s a huge struggle.
Right? As we just accept everything, then it makes it hard to stand for something. And that’s a very hard place that the youth of today are in. Well, you know what, you get to say what you want and your truth is just as valid as my truth. And that might make a good conversation at the lunch table, but when we start to align it biblically there’s some challenges with that, that our youth are facing.
I had a conversation with Brian Sutter, who is a clinician here in the office, and he made a comment that they’re less logical and more experiential, if that makes sense. And sometimes we can really lay out a great logical argument. But then again, they’re gonna be asking, does it fit?
Does what you’re saying fit with my experience and what I view and what I’m seeing in the world? And so we might have some pushback. The logic, A to B to C doesn’t necessarily, again, you can see on the bullets there, logical rationale is not one that surfaces high. Yeah, these are the high bullets that we need to speak to.
And another challenge in that, right? And youth will naturally do the horizontal check in. Okay, so what are my peers what are the people my age? What do they believe? What do they value? What’s important to them? They’ve got the vertical piece. They know what they were taught or what church or grandpa or dad and mom, they had that vertical piece, but now they’re starting to look horizontal.
What are they teaching out there? What am I learning from them? So they’re starting to take this and they’re starting to look like this and looking to see what’s out there. Let’s move now to the relationship piece. You mentioned that they do thrive with connection. They want connection.
That would be a positive thing, right? With relationships, they want relationships. That hasn’t changed. No, without too much detail, where did you go a couple generations ago? Where would we go hang out? We’d go to the McDonald’s parking lot or to the park or the main street or whatever, where kids desire to gather.
And they don’t need McDonald’s parking lots anymore now when they have their phones. So they’re still gathering, they’re still doing the, to the park or to the McDonald’s parking lot hanging out all night. But it’s not physical, but it looks different. And that makes a difference. And so let’s take and address these here.
Craig, go ahead and speak to some of these bullets that are here. Well, boy, looking at the social capital for connection, right? One of the huge challenges that I see with kids is that it takes a lot of work. Learning how to read body language, how to interact back and forth discussion wise, how to share ideas, how to figure out my emotions, my thoughts, are they matching?
And, this takes a lot of work, face to face interaction piece. So that’s been removed. So they have a lot less practice in that, and so that kind of makes it easier for them to avoid conversation, avoid dialogue when I can just text you or whatever. I’m gonna text the person across the lunch table instead of actually have a conversation with us.
They’re getting less and less practice of this. And the second bullet there on the screen, mentioning the fronts, presenting fronts to others is something that is very tangible these days with social media, right? What does my Instagram look like? What does my Facebook page look like?
Right? What does my avatar look like? You have an option to put yourself out there and to somewhat groom that image into what you want it to be. And then there’s tons of pressure here, right? Absolutely. You must see that a ton going through the schools, right? You know what?
It is a hard thing, right? It’s such an easy avenue. Just think I can take a picture and post it and say, So how do I look tonight? Or, What do you think of my outfit? And instantly you can get great feedback, but you also open yourself up to hard feedback, wrong feedback. And so there’s this continuous tension of what kids are sharing and getting that make it so difficult on them.
Which really leads us now to the fear bucket. I mean, even what you said there, so their world has opened up fears that maybe I was a bit protected against. Because my self, my front wasn’t out there for everybody to comment on in a very easy way or whatnot.
So let’s look at some of the fears there. I can imagine rejection is coming out of that situation that you just painted. Am I going to be accepted and I’m gonna know in a few minutes? Yes. And I’m gonna be able to quantify that acceptance. Yes. I mean, that takes this conundrum to a completely new level in what I had growning up, Right?
Yeah. I had 51 likes within 30 minutes of something that I said about someone else. Right? And, the rejection, that’s nothing new, boy, I mean, there’s always a part of that insecurity or that wondering will I be accepted? Why not? Will I make the team?
Will I not? Will that group of kids like me or not? Will I do well in school? Why not? So that rejection piece has always been there. But technology, like you said, gives it instantaneous feedback. That is just so hard, especially for, we’ll get into the development piece, but it is so hard for that brain to just make sense of all that data that’s coming and just pouring into them.
I think this is really helpful to know what fear, knowing what people are afraid of is a major breakthrough in helping a person out and in being able to encourage them. If we know where their fears are, we know then how to encourage them.
So rejection is one. And we’re gonna get to the equipment slide, so I’m gonna hold on how we go with that. Uncertainty. You mentioned already at the outset that societal challenges in terms of the bombings, the world that we live in where things that are happening on the other side of the world are very near to them. Whether it be catastrophe we know what’s happening in the world. And so that impacts their sense of security. Is that where that comes from? And that’s global and then it gets local, right? And that uncertainty is, boy, you know what, at some point I gotta go to bed at sometime, I gotta go to sleep and I gotta put my phone down.
And there’s that uncertainty when I went offline, did something blow up about something I said or did, or was a group of people decide to make fun of me and that just went everywhere. Did that happen? When I put my phone down. So there’s that uncertainty of what am I going to find when I wake up in the morning?
Such, so hard for me to grasp. But man, that grips our kids so deeply. So, what you’ve just done is you’ve just taken it in two different worlds. One is a global world where we live in a very tenuous society where we’re very much affected globally. Right? That brings uncertainty.
And they see that. But you’ve brought it down very local to their own experience as being uncertain as well. Will I get the likes? Will I not? Will I be rejected? Going to the top point. Arlan, any insights that you wanna share on either relationships or peers here? Yeah, just a question for Craig too.
You sometimes hear this phrase this fear of missing out phrase that comes around with this generation. Do you see that because they are so connected all the time that there can be almost this fear to unconnect or to let go because they might miss out on something.
They might miss out on some type of activity that they really wanted to be part of. So that connectivity can work against that. Is that something you see or am I making that up in my mind. Well, absolutely, and especially in the junior high world, that’s just breeding that mindset so intensely, Arlan, and just to have kids that are like, I can’t give up my phone because my streak with these people will end and I can’t stop that.
So that disconnect piece, I mean that just is always on their mind. You’re gonna need to explain streak. Yes. So streaks, we’re looking at the Snapchat app and a streak is a connection back and forth with one of your friends or one of your contacts on Snapchat. So it’s an app where you make a comment back and forth that can be just a simple hi or a simple connection, right?
But that continues the streak. So a streak is every day I’ve connected with that person and to let that go, a lot pressure. There’s a ton of pressure. And I just one last point there too, I have to believe, when you think about, we have a hard time, at least I have a hard time, with the nonstop constant news cycle and that’s out there where you feel like the world has ended about every week, some catastrophe that we’re not gonna navigate is taking place.
Whether it’s politics or climate change or terrorism or whatever it is. The one thing that we have is the benefit of experience and life experience to say, Hey, the sun’s gonna come up tomorrow. It has for the last dozens of years. This generation, when you’re talking about young people like that, they don’t necessarily have that benefit.
It is a really big deal when they hear these fearful things. And, I’m guessing it’s very helpful just to have someone hold their hands and just walk ’em through and just say, You know what? It will be okay tomorrow. A sad byproduct of that, Arlan, is research shows that kids that are spending more than five hours a day online, they are checking off some of the depression symptoms on a daily basis that maybe wasn’t there in generations before.
And then we’re also seeing an increase in the suicide rates of this age group. So it’s not just, am I gonna be disconnected, but it’s going to be, like you said, I don’t have the hope of the sun coming up again tomorrow. It becomes a very dark place for them. So those fears that we’ve highlighted there really have a mentally emotional impact in some real ways, I think some of what Arlan, what you mentioned, really leads us well into the development the development of our young people. And I think it’s been well founded that there’s delays and these delays, I think, we are apt to compare this generation with ourselves or with our previous generations.
And that’s a bit of our metric of what a 17 year old should be able to do. Or what a 23 year old should be able to do. We are our own normal case. So studies are showing the development is delayed. What does that look like and give us some, when you look at the plus, they’re very good at sharing about themselves, right?
But there’s a developmental piece of saying, Okay, so what does that really mean when you are sharing so much about yourself all the time? Developmentally, they’re not connecting the dots of what does that really mean? They’re not connecting the dots, that’s something that’s posted or something that’s sent out something you put on the Internet that never goes away. So they’re not connecting that even though we tell them that. So there’s some of those struggles developmentally as well. And just that their emotions override anything that their head can say, You know what, I probably shouldn’t be doing this.
But developmentally, boy, when the emotions take over, they just go with it. I think another important concept here, developmentally as well. And I know it’s been said that you know that the yester year of a couple generations back of a 17 year old, couple generations back is equivalent now to our 23 year old today.
If that makes sense. And, I think one of the important takeaways here is to acknowledge that there’s a developmental delay. I don’t know that any of you would maybe entrust your 17 year old with the farm like they did a couple of generations ago. And there were other societal challenges a number of generations ago that made an impact on development.
Maybe it was the Great Depression. Maybe it was World War II, maybe it was the Vietnam conflict. There are things that impact us developmentally. And so here we find ourselves maybe without some of the challenges have shifted in a way that we’re developmenting maybe developing in different areas.
And not some of the areas that is a part of our metric and rubric for growing up. Does that make sense? Absolutely. If you just watch them what they can do technology wise and their development to do so much so quickly. Even a little child already knows how to swipe and already knows what to do.
And to see that piece. But then like you said, oh, there’s so many other things that are just not being done, just lagging behind that they just really struggle with. Responsibility for example. Or whether it be etiquette type of things, which you spoke to with a relational code of ethics.
But, Arlan, I’d be interested in your thoughts on development or anything else here on this slide. You know, I don’t necessarily have any thoughts on that, but I’m curious if we would go to the next slide. I’d love to hear, starting with that development, what are some ways that we can navigate that?
Cuz what you described is what I see in my experience. So how do we navigate that and start to provide some hope with that? What does that look like? Well, I think we gotta have a mindset of really being optimistic too. You know, we gotta look at equipping. I mean, think about that.
Someone’s coming and they’re gonna go on this travel and we get to equip them cuz we’ve already been there in a sense. And we know what to pick out what you’re gonna need for this part of the journey. You’re gonna, this tool, this type. So, we need to be in charge of that.
We have to equip them so that we’re able to see that from a positive lens. I really like, Craig, what you’re saying about teaching. We have to step into being teachers here. And, I think sometimes we brush things off. Speaking of the developmental bucket here. They should know that. I shouldn’t have to explain that.
Well, we do have to explain it. So go ahead and explain it. You know, to simply be arrayed that they are not at the level they should be according to our metric and our rubric. Really at the end of the day is not helpful. But as you’ve mentioned, that teaching piece is very helpful. And we have to step into that. Let’s go to the values there now. Now what we’re doing here, Craig, is we wanna provide some equipment here. What does it look like knowing that they’ve got harmful on their metric of values, they’ve got is it freeing or is it discriminatory. So some things to consider here as we think about equipping values. Well, just as it shares or looking at the element of the Scripture, looking at the person of Christ, that mindset that might have been something that was more just absorbed or a natural connection. And that’s not so, so we have to be a lot more intentional in the element of authority of who Christ even was and the Bible is. I really like the second bullet there too, use the person of Christ take Christ against their three former bullets. Freeing or enslaving. Jesus’ message is freedom. He wants to set us free. And then you take Jesus with discriminatory, God is not a respector of persons.
We read throughout the Scriptures and Jesus embodied what we all want to be in terms of loving people, not having a filter on our eyes for who I should all of this. It seemed like I think we have in our toolkit to reach the values of this generation. A powerful person of Christ.
And why should we be surprised? We’re not surprised. But use it. Absolutely. I like that next piece there that looks at being vulnerable. And just thinking about that. Our values might have not always been the way that they were when we were teens or we were in our young twenties and we’ve had opportunities to grow and to shape and for our values really to be strengthened, even according to the Word.
But we weren’t always there. And kids look at us where we’re at and they think that we’ve always been where we’re at. And sometimes to be vulnerable in the sense, and you’d be able to say, You know what? This is part of my journey. This is where I was at. There’s some discernment and wisdom, obviously inappropriateness of that.
But really just to be reminded of that, they look at us and think we’ve always been there. For them to understand we’ve been shaped and what has shaped us really plays to their script too of vulnerability. Which they value. As well as story. I think this generation values story.
That speaks to their non-discriminatory. They don’t discriminate. They are very open empathetically to the story of people. They’re very quick to say, wait, let me hear his story. And give that person space. Does that make sense? So again, we’re speaking into that script that they listen to being vulnerable about how our values have been informed.
Some points on values there, Arlan, anything to add to that? Just one piece just to echo what I heard there, what I have seen with this generation is a great enthusiasm and a desire to reach out and to engage and to get to know other people, no matter all shapes and sizes, so to speak.
And that’s a really powerful thing. I mean, it’s very Christlike in the sense you see Christ as you said, Matt, no respect of persons. He was with all people. And I think the opportunity is then to bring that fullness of Christ, the fullness of grace and truth that we see in the person of Christ is to help walk them through that and channel their enthusiasm and encourage them into that fullness of Jesus.
That’s a real powerful thing, I think, and we wanna seize on the positive side of this generation. But to acknowledge that first bullet there, that the authority of the Scriptures is not gonna be maybe taken for granted like it was in previous generations. We have to just realize that’s where we’re at.
And that we need to not necessarily roll our eyes or throw up our hands in exasperation when they really question a core of Scripture. And to know that they’re working it through their value system. And, we need to support the authority of Scripture and not take for granted necessarily that they, where they are, where we are, we’re at.
When we had a society that largely valued the Scripture, the push towards apologetics or just to understand why we believe what we believe is really important. I mean, my experience, what I have seen is that the youth are gonna be exposed to so many different cultures, so many more religions, so many more value systems out there than most generations were by that age.
And so there is a real opportunity to teach and to encourage. But like you said, Matt, not take it for granted. We can’t just say, well, the Scripture says we have to. We can, but we have to provide a little bit more background alongside with that too. I love the piece of there’s phrase in schools that talk about, kids don’t care how much, you know until they know how much you care. And you look at that relationship piece, right? And when we’re able to connect that relation piece with them, boy does that open their ears to maybe our conversation about the values, about the person of Christ. But for them to be able to say, well, that one minister, he always comes over and talks to us every Sunday.
He comes and he interrupts our little circle. And says hi to us and asks how we’re doing and just to be able to connect that piece or to get into a Sunday School class once a year. And just to be able to be present to them. And you’re really speaking to that relationship piece here. Craig, and again, we had advertised that not everything is hard here with the equipment piece and really what you’ve just said, is that, right?
Yeah. That first bullet and second bullet, know them, pursue them. We have the image of Christ with that young ,generation. He paused, he took them up, he blessed them. But, to get to know them. You gave some really good examples of pursuing them. I think is terrific and intentionally connecting.
So, and sometimes I think that’s uncomfortable because Satan doesn’t want us to connect either. And sometimes, they don’t really, what would they have with a person like me? Or they’re not interested in me and just be able to say, but you know what, they’re part of our church.
And I want to get to them every Sunday. Just even if it’s a hello, how are you? And just to be part of that and connect with them is just connect. It just means so much to them. Lots of terrific ways to do that. And that’s been done in wonderful ways too, currently is being done by many of you, I’m sure.
Let’s look at fears now. We’re looking at equipping now stepping into these fears. You mentioned about loving them and how important that is, but really to have an empathy that their fears are real. You’ve already spoken to the mental harm that has affected many to realize that this is a dark world for them and it’s a tough dog eat dog world that they live in. It is, and I love the piece really of that verse, I think of often just about that perfect love, that complete love. What that does to fear, boy, it’s hard for fear and that complete love to just be able to coexist.
We’re able to speak that hope into that. Then that encouragement into them, the empathy with them, not to be like, I know what you’re going through, but to be able to say, here’s something that I went through with that. I also felt that, and that we’re able to share that and be able to connect that with them.
I think sometimes that empathy piece is something that we have to move towards them. They’re natural at it. We’ve already mentioned that they’re good empathizers. We might not be as good empathizers. And for me to see my team cast down because of some comment that he got. It’s easy for me to blow that off and say, you guys, and that’s so important to y’all and that, but to realize it is important.
And it’s not really for me to judge how important that should be to them. If it is indeed important, it is. So that empathy piece, I think is a good reminder for us all. Brothers, what I really like is how these two really dovetail together so well. What I am hearing is that core desire to seek to understand them and to relate to them and to engage them will go a long ways towards addressing those fears that they have of rejection and acceptance.
And do I fit in and is there constancy in my life of some type? And so just that commitment to engage is such a powerful, powerful thing. There’s an older minister, I’ve been blessed to be tied in with Illinois State Bible Study for quite some time now, and there’s an older minister that comes every so often. But he comes with this like overzealous enthusiasm, not fake. It’s totally real. He loves the youth, he wants to talk to them, he wants to hear what’s going on in their life. He asks questions and he just he goes with them every chance he can and it’s a powerful, powerful thing that he does cuz he brings constancy and relationship into their lives.
And, huge blessing in so many ways. As you were saying that, in providing that example on development there, some equipment there. And the second bullet says, interact with vision, which is exactly what you’ve just shared there, Arlan, with that ministering brother who comes to ISU that he sees a future.
We have to because it’s true. It is the future. It is the future. And I think that had to have been a reason why Jesus found it completely time well spent to spend time with future. Absolutely. And think of the message that it sends to them. So, one of the drawbacks of technology is that it can isolate according to just a peer group.
And we’re losing some of that tightest tube ability to teach and connect and reach. But when we’re intentional with them, think of the message that sends to them. Why would they come speak or why would he come over? Why would you want to come down? Why would he be interested in me? Yeah. Or why would she, the wives have such a great opportunity to speak into the ladies, the girls’ hearts as well, and to appreciate that opportunity that we have. Meeting ’em where they’re at. We’ve mentioned that top bullet, I think, is important. Be clear and specific. Again, we’ve talked about their development as being delayed, right? And so we can harp, but why not be clear and specific. This is what I’m asking you to do and this is how you need to do it, going back to your teach piece. And I think in the church sometimes this is very applied. We might think, well, the young, young folks should be able to run with this. Yes. Well, they need some guidance to run with that and provide some clear, specific instructions.
But yet give the reins over to them so they can grow those developmental skills. But it’s going to take some stewardship on our part. Absolutely. Finding those things that they have that interest and desire and giving them, giving that, like you said, that room to go but also that room to, whoa, wait a sec, this didn’t go well. And to be able to support them in that, that teaches them so much safe place to make mistakes. Absolutely. Well, let’s keep moving on. One more slide here before we get to some of the questions that were put forward.
And, Craig, I’d like you to speak to this because parents are a big piece. We care deeply about our children and there’s a lot of struggles out there with parents. So, speak to, we’re speaking to ministers and their wives, right? There’s an element of this where we minister to parents.
Absolutely. I think of the verse, and I love the first part, we rejoice with those that rejoice, right? Well, this happened. A graduation got to college, or engagement or baptism or repenting. And I would love that rejoicing with those that rejoice. But there’s another part of that verse. It talks about weeping with those that weep.
And to be able to look at a prodigal child or that family that has a kid that’s just struggling and that’s creating tension on the family and that struggle on that. But then that family comes to church that mom and dad comes to church and they’ve had a kid that’s had some struggles.
Maybe it’s something that’s made the news, or maybe it’s just been something that’s been known. Maybe it’s a developmental struggle, but they just have a child that’s had that struggle. How do we speak into them when we see or interact with them on a Sunday? And I think the word cloud here on this slide really speaks I think all of us who are parents have so resonated with some of those words.
And I think it’s helpful for us to realize that parents are dealing with that. And those feelings and how can we come alongside and minister to them as well, I think is important. I think there’s an interesting piece, how Satan loves to play even within that scenario, right?
And so let’s say we’ve had a huge struggle. There’s a struggle and we come to church and no one says anything. And it’s almost like, does no one know? Does no one care? Or is everybody too embarrassed to speak to me? Which is even worse. Do I become a situational leper where I’m like, Oh no, it’s been so bad that we’ve been almost spiritually ostracized that no one even wants to say, Hey, you know what, man I want you to know, I’ve just really been thinking of you, Craig. Situational leper is a terrific phrase and I think that is very true, and we get to speak into that. And we don’t have to have an answer. That’s the thing. We don’t have to have an answer. And I’ve even learned an equipping piece in this is not necessarily to say a beautiful phrase, I want you to know that I’m praying for you, but for a hurting mom, for a hurting dad to say, How can I pray for you this week? And then come back the next Sunday. And say, You know what? Last Sunday you asked me to pray. How’s it been going? Maybe it’s still a struggle, but you came back, you remembered and what that speaks to someone that says, I don’t have to carry this burden all on my own.
Wow, this person’s gonna check in. Huge impact. Or how can I pray with you now? Absolutely. To do that right on the spot. So let’s move along. Arlan, anything to share? Should we go to some questions that have been posed? Yeah, and I think we’re just gonna stay right with your screen.
Okay. And, you can just pop up the questions that were there. Just what I am hearing, which is so powerful is this theme of relationship and engaging relationship. And it makes sense if we are a church family. If we are members one of another, that’s gonna be a huge piece that plays into it.
And we, like you said, Craig, weep with those that weep and rejoice with those that rejoice. And, that’s really powerful take home for myself.
Some questions here. Several of you submitted these questions ahead of time when you registered and we went through those and there was a few themes that came out and so we coalesced them into a few questions.
One came through on the chat during the presentation and I just want you to speak to it if you could. It is their comment, their observation is that you’re seeing, I think it looks like society is moving away from the kind of the innocent guilt paradigm that you can see so often, I think clearly in Scripture to almost more of an honor shame type paradigm where the worst thing you can do is shame someone or bring shame.
Do you sense that or do you see that or just curious to speak into that. That question was shared earlier today or tonight. Well, just a quick thought that I would have. I would think as we have the absence of truth and the absence of reliance on truth, that just allows shame to become, even though it’s a shadow, it can become that much of a greater shadow.
So we see that as truth. The significance of truth becomes eroded or degraded. What does that leave in its place? It leaves just an great opportunity for shame just to grow. Sure, so these questions in front of us, let’s just walk through those. I think we’ve touched on number one a decent amount, but any further things, especially the second part of that, it speaks to social media and the impact that social media’s having on youth today, which we’ve talked about.
But are there healthy ways to respond to these trends? How do we engage the youth knowing the technological world that they live in. I think a great place to start, Arlan, is just redeeming our time. I think a beautiful place is just to talk about the amount of time and just to ask them and say, You know what?
Research says that, you know, teens spend anywhere from eight to 10 hours a day on their screens that’s outside of the school work piece. So if you’re in school 35 hours a week, that means you’d be spending 70 hours a week on your screen. That’s what research says. Tell me what you know. Tell me what your friends are doing.
Ask them where they’re at in their amount of time. Give them to think about the perspective of how easy it is to be on their screens all the time. And present that question of hey, this is what I’ve heard. What do you think? And this might speak a little bit to question four, but we may be able to talk about both of them at the same time.
For sure. I think one valuable thing is to just walk through the economics of social media, the economics of technology. You can get Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat for free. It’s all free and you almost think, and I think in the minds of our youth is that there must be philanthropists, right?
They’re just trying to splash spread. Good. This is a great thing. Well, there’s economics here. Instagram’s not just doing it for giggles. They’ve got a budget and they’re making a lot of money. And where does that money come from?
Ah, now we start getting to why Instagram is there and the service they provide, but yet how they garner money coming through advertisement. All of a sudden we get into some interesting ahas. On what? That’s why your feed populates this way. That’s why you know all of this that the streak is important because they want you on there, and so while you’re connected and you’re like, I gotta give him to keep the streak going.
It’s not the relationship they’re after, they’re after your attention. And, again, I just think that’s helpful discussion. That goes completely without notice. Nobody’s asking those questions when I sign up for it. So, one of that connection to the advertising element.
And to say you just think you’re on for your own enjoyment, but you know what? There’s someone else also watching what you are doing and using that information. One other point with that, I wonder if there is a way to, since they are, since the generation can be so horizontally driven as peer expectation, peer interaction is really powerful.
Then, if there’s a way that you can solicit the power of positive peer pressure amongst themselves to call them to a higher standard or to encourage them to higher standard. And, frankly, I think sometimes it’s the relationship building component again, where you show them and engage with them to create a more appealing alternative than what’s right in front of them.
That’s a really powerful thing. I’d like to think as my kids get older, they will do what I tell them to because I’m their dad. And, they just do whatever I say. But I have a suspicion that what their best friends say is gonna have just as much impact if not more impact on their lives.
And so remember that and almost challenge them. Challenge them to hold each other accountable. Peer to peer can be really powerful. Let’s go on to the second question there about gender identity issues. This is a big, big topic, big deal, in this society that we’re in. Several questions came up on that.
How do we view this area proactively? And one question that was just chatted in, let me just read this. Talk about some kind of language to use when discussing sensitive issues like sexual identity, gender identity. Seems like there’s some terms and language that can really inflame or push people away.
How do we address these areas with that grace and truth balance that we’ve talked about? Craig, any thoughts is what you’ve seen and in the schools and in your experience. Absolutely. And, you’re right, talk about an issue for our generation to be able to speak grace and truth into. So to be aware that we have an opportunity and we shouldn’t see this as we have to go run and hide because we don’t agree or we can’t understand the elements of that, but that we get to be the leaders in speaking truth into our next generation.
What does this really mean? What does that look like? We want our kids talking to us when they talk about, Well, this kid at school said this, or how do we do that? So I love, I’m gonna use three you talked about what language to use. Three words or phrases to be able to keep in mind is the same sex attraction.
The second is orientation, and the third is identity all combined, but they speak very differently to where people are processing and thinking this situation through. So looking at the same sex attraction. That’s a common in a sense that just a noticing, just an awareness piece. It’s maybe a fleeting thought.
It’s that time where friendships are growing and you get really close to a friend, and it’s not uncommon for maybe a thought to be, Oh, I wonder if, so that same sex attraction thing that’s something that is more common in the developmental piece. We’re talking about the age of the developmental piece, the orientation piece that’s going to next step.
That’s okay. I’ve had this attraction piece for a while and now I’m wondering about, what would happen if I wanted to ask that person, Hey, I want you to know that I like you. Or what happens if maybe we have a kiss when we’re hanging out close and just that person just does that.
Or that little, maybe experimenting or trying a little elements of stuff that orientation starts to gravitate that. But then we move into the last piece, the identity piece. That identity. Think of the word of identity. That is, here’s my id. This is who I am. So that identity piece says that I am of this, or I am of this orientation. I’m of this lifestyle, of this approach of my sexuality.
Okay. Let me summarize a little bit because I think that’s been very helpful to the question that’s been posed is the vocabulary we use. You’re suggesting that there are a couple layers here. One is sexual, same sex attracted. So if I think about a needle, I’m attracted. In different ways.
And this needle is moving sexual orientation being more, I think I’m oriented this direction and identity is saying this is me. So when we address and talk to young people and get into their world, we should be selective about that vocabulary. We can talk about sexual same sex attracted, and it’s not gay. Those two words are not equal. Same sex attracted is hormones going lots of different places and so to have the right vocabulary I think is very helpful when I’m talking to my children. Well, let’s talk about same sex attraction. That’s different than talking about.
Yes. Your friend John is gay. Yes, absolutely, Matt. And something that’s been so discouraging to people that are struggling and we know that this is not a new issue. It’s been in the Bible many years and so this isn’t a new issue of the struggle of the heart, but what culture has done and even some extreme elements has hijacked this topic.
And has said if you have just a thought just a wonder. I wondered that they automatically get out the identity stamp and you have to identify, and they’re just blowing kids through all of these steps. Just most of ’em when they would maybe experiment or think about it, then research says that they do, they orient, they come back and they resume being, Okay, this is where I’m at. So we make a grave mistake when we say same sex attraction and we equate that with gay. And that’s part of the problem is that is moving too quickly or young people are being groomed as soon to say, Oh, that must mean orientation and gay.
Yeah. And you’re saying that we need to speak in those different levels. And I wanna be cognizant of time here as well. Arlan, do you have something to say about that? No, only, just what I’m hearing is a very compassionate approach too, without compromise, not compromising the truth, but a relationship building, compassionate approach, seeking to understand and have a discussion and a dialogue is much healthier than a both barrels blasting type approach perhaps. And, Arlan, I think if we place on that their values of harmful, of discriminatory and notice that those flags are gonna fire in their mind. So we need to be able to speak to this issue without being discriminatory.
Not see it as your friend Johnny is identified, but separate him from his behavior. We can communicate that to our children that I loved your friend John and what a special image of Christ that he is, an image bearer of God. While, at the same, not yielding to the value.
Absolutely. And that’s such a hard developmental thing for young people to be able to grasp, but we get to teach that. We get to teach that we can love Paul which speaks to. Half of the hour here nearly. I know. I just was gonna make one last point. It speaks to the character of Christ.
If we examine his character, he was very grace and truth, very compassion filled, building relationships, engaging people of all kinds without compromising the truths of God’s Word. And, it’s a high calling that we’re called to. Let me just say this third one.
I apologize, we’re not gonna get to it, but there is an excellent article or talk on AC Central under the events tab. You can find the AC Medical Fellowship recent conference, I think it wasn’t that long ago, and there was a talk there on legalization of marijuana. Some of the impacts that they’re seeing in society by Dr. Aaron Plattner from Alto, Michigan. I highly encourage you to listen to that if you have a chance and to get a sense for that one cause it is, it’s a growing movement in society as well. I’ll give you, Craig, the last word. If you have any last thoughts or things you wanna share and then we will bring this to a close.
I’m just encouraged. So much research says that children want to be connected to the adults and the people that speak truth and influence into their lives. That they want that, and sometimes they don’t always show it, but that they want that. And we have that opportunity and that we get to do that with a great passion and enthusiasm that’s ours to take and to be thankful for that.
Thanks for that, Craig. Thanks to each of you for joining us.