“The number one adult who’s influenced me is Brent. There was a time in the fall when I was suicidal again and he was, like, visibly upset. He said some things like, ‘Don’t do that… we need you.’ And he hugged me and teared up. I think he believes in me more than anyone else. He gets me.” – Allen, age 21 (p 88)
Empathy: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
Churches that engage well with young people are those who ‘dive into the deep waters of teenagers’ and young adults’ lives’ (p 90).
It is difficult being a young person today. But it is also important to note… to empathise is not just to feel for another. It is to understand the significant struggles, frustrations and burdens, as well as the delights, joys and opportunities that the other faces.
When it comes to faith, spirituality and church what do you think are the significant struggles, frustrations and burdens a young person faces today?
Young people face three key questions. Who am I? Where do I fit? What difference do I make? Healthy churches respond to these questions through journeying with, listening to, and making time for. These questions are not unique to this generation. They are timeless questions.
One thing is certain however. While they are timeless questions, young people feel them more intensely than older generations. Their world is constantly changing … more complex than ever before… and this leads to a loss of identity, a lack of genuine connection, and the confusion of cultural pluralism.
But the gospel does speak into that space.
The question ‘who am I?’, of my identity, is answered by discovering myself within God’s Grace.
The question ‘where do I fit?’, of my belonging, is answered by knowing that God loves me.
The question ‘what difference do I make?’, of my purpose, is answered by being invited to partner with God on his mission.
To think about and discuss
Reflect on the quote by Allen. What stands out for you?
What do you understand are the key issues facing young people today?
Walk through your facility and worship service with the eyes of a young person. What do you notice?
How well do you know the names and the longings of the young people in your community? What could you do about it?