My heart aches for our contemporary generation of young people. Many of them are disoriented and lost - afraid and lonely! Some of our young people feel a sense of what Henri Nouwen termed ‘historical dislocation.’ This often leads them to a place of despair and they push back from their current reality because they do not want to accept it or face it. They perceive the world as hopeless.
Many of these incredibly intelligent young men and women are searching for truth but have no idea where to find it. Most of them resort to a journey that will transcend their current reality. The more mystical type of person might begin a journey that takes them deeper into their inner self and often this leads to experimenting with drugs. Some introspective young people want a closer connection with nature – they want to transcend their current reality and become one with creation. Others resort to doing and become actively involved in trying to change their world. Whether it is a deep internal spiritual journey, or a radical type activism, their goal is to find meaning.
I am saddened that as Christian leaders many of us have failed dismally at our task. We see the confusion, the fear, the torment, and the ruined lives, and many of us only alienate these young people because we perceive them as rebellious or even weird. In actual fact, they are only really seeking truth and freedom from the rut in which they are trapped.
What can we do to help this situation? How can we get alongside broken, hurting, and fearful young people instead of polarizing the situation?
· Become honest with ourselves: Looking inward and seeing and acknowledging our own brokenness is a good place to begin. Instead of pointing a finger at this generation, we need to do some internal sweeping and get into all the dark crevices of our own spiritual lives, clean them out, let the light shine in and then we can offer hope to a lost and hurting generation. We were also once broken individuals. The chief difference is that we have looked into the eyes of our wounded Savior and He has touched and healed our brokenness. If truth be told, He is still daily working at putting the pieces of our broken lives together!
· Speak their language: This generation wants us to be real with them. They want us to speak in their terms. When we admit our own weakness, failure, and inadequacy it does resonate with them. More than anything else in the world young people are looking for authenticity. I have heard many of them complain that they do not see sincerity in their Christian leaders. Young people do not want our judgment they are seeking our compassion and our honesty. It is far better to lead from compassion than to seek to control. Our authority will come from our character and our ability to show genuine care - it will never come from seeking to control people.
· Offer them hope: Genuine hope is only found in Jesus and we need to find ways to articulate meaning to our young people. We must find ways of sharing the gospel in fresh and appealing terms. This is a generation of young people who need Jesus but who need to understand Him on their own terms. Somehow, someway we need to articulate for their ears a joyous hope for their future.
I am convinced that once we capture the imagination of the young and they look into the eyes of our wounded Savior their lives can be made whole. If we do not point them to the crucified Christ then who will? If we are not the voice crying out in the wilderness – who will be?
There are other voices proclaiming their message loud and clear but there is one that echoes above every other sound and it is the beautiful, incredible, amazing, and life changing message of our Jesus. I hear Him saying: “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”
Lets take up the challenge for a broken generation. The message of Jesus is as fresh, contemporary, and life changing, as it was two thousand years ago. Let your voice be heard my fellow leader. Let it ring out crystal clear above the rabble; “Jesus can mend a broken life.”
I am and always will be,
Recklessly abandoned, ruthlessly committed and in relentless pursuit of Jesus,