Thursday, May 9, 2013

Pardon the crass expression but it is true.

Do you feel like young people are just impossible to connect with these days? Maybe you are a parent or a teacher who just feels like teenagers wont listen to you. Maybe you are involved with young people in another way and it seems like the generation that was born after AOL became popular is the most disrespectful people you have ever met. Maybe you are great at connecting with young people and think they are fantastic. Maybe This generation gives you hope for a better world in the future. I have no idea where in the spectrum you may find yourself. But I can offer a bit of wisdom on the subject. Hopefully you will find it useful in understanding your interactions with people under 20. Most importantly I hope it helps you evaluate yourself in a way that leads to personal growth.

To me what I am about to share is what I consider to be a leading factor in why young people are moving away from previously well established places like church.

Here it is.

Young people have been increasingly exposed to modern technology that exposes them to exponentially growing communication and information. Because sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and whatever other communication or social network you can think of expose us to so many people, it is now a matter of social survival to notice pattern in order to discern between what is authentic and what is fake or sarcastic.

Basically what I'm saying is - Young people are getting better and better at smelling b.s.

Pardon the crass expression but it is true.

In a world where Facebook notifies you of each of your "friends" birthdays what significance is it when you write happy birthday on their wall? Often the only time a person communicates directly with us in a given year through Facebook is when we see this reminder. Is there really a connection through that? Most young people will acknowledge that they appreciate the gesture, but it caries little weight in knowing how that person does or doesn't value them.

Someone with the pattern of being rude, selfish, and full of pride, who has only said hello to you in the hallway at school or shared a third grade classroom with you might shoot you a message or "like" a post, or "favorite" a tweet. In that moment young people wonder what is the motive, is it to be seen as the nice person who wishes you a happy birthday? is the motive to make you think about them? is the motive selfish, or selfless. Is it an authentic connection or is it fake?

Even more confusing is the person who we know even less about or are less connected to sends us a message asking how things are going.

So when it comes to connecting with young people (especially those who cant remember the world before AOL instant messenger or cant even remember that far back) there is a constant evaluation of authenticity. There is a constant guard against the fake, phony, sarcastic, and selfish pride.

It is not until you can show them a level of consistency in who you are, and that you value who they are and not just what they can bring to you, that you will be able to connect with them on a level that serves to  impact their lives.

When you as a parent or teacher or youth worker try to have a serious conversation about God, morality, or simply respect and responsibility think first about what you have invested in connecting with them. They already have and will at best invest in what your telling them to the degree that they perceive you have invested in them.

With regard to why I think this contributes to young people leaving established churches, denominations, or religion is because there is often a disconnect between what we believe and how we live. This is inconsistency is the main red flag of something that is fake. So they begin to trust less of what/who they hear and then loose respect before disconnecting completely.

Are we ever going to be able to live 100% consistent lives probably not but I hope that this article would help to move you on toward perfection. Let us seek to live authentically and genuinely value the lives of the people we interact with if not all people. Hopefully the ever increasing ability to distinguish authenticity and depth from that which is shallow and fake will serve to move the world in a positive direction forcing us to love our neighbors just that much more.

As Always thanks for your time and giving this a read. If you enjoyed it share it with friends, you can do so easily with one of the buttons below. I pray that you will embrace life in the Love and Grace offered to you through Jesus Christ, and that you will always remember Jeremiah 29:11.  – For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, Plans to Proper You and not for harm, Plans with Hope for the Future.

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