“The Kids Haven’t Changed. You Have.”

I see a lot of talk online about ‘Millenials’, and almost all of it is negative. It’s been going on for years now. Recently I saw a video in which a young woman apologizes on behalf of millenials everywhere for them being so awful. This video was shared widely by, you guessed it: people 35 years old and up.

A few years ago I went to a conference in Colorado Springs with Jeff, the Administrative Pastor at White Fields. The conference was put on by Barna Research Group and was about ministry to Millenials.

There were a few really good points made at the conference. One was that it’s going to be really hard to reach young people if they feel that you disdain them and don’t like them. The other one was, that despite all the chatter that Millenials are lazy, self-centered and entitled, if you really look at the virtues of this generation, you will see things like: they are heroic – they want to do great things and save the world! What if that was harnessed and directed towards good goals? That youthful zeal could accomplish many great things.

Here’s what I think: Each generation of adults is quick to forget that older people looked at their generation and thought the same things about them that they now think about Millenials. Remember GenX?  Remember Generation Y?  Remember how in the 90’s everyone thought the sky was falling and that the GenX-ers were never going to get jobs and move out of their parents’ basements?

Or how about we go back even a little bit further, to 1985, to John Hughes and The Breakfast Club. Remember the conversation between Vern the assistant principle and Carl the janitor?  Here’s a clip to refresh your memory:

“The kids haven’t changed. You have.”

Good point, Carl.

One of the things I appreciate most about the association of churches I found myself in as a young person (Calvary Chapel) was that they encouraged young people’s zeal, and gave them outlets for it. As a young person I had the opportunity to go overseas, full of zeal and idealism, and serve Jesus. I will forever be thankful for that opportunity. They didn’t squash my zeal, they gave me an outlet for it. They didn’t tell me that if I wanted to serve God then I needed to go to school for 6 years first and get a degree in Youth Ministry, until I came out tired and so burdened with debt that I wouldn’t dare do anything daring. Being busy serving God and working with churches as a missionary probably kept me from the siren call of temptation and other vain pursuits.

How about instead of bemoaning this up and coming generation, we encourage them to use their enthusiasm and heroism for God’s mission and give them plenty of opportunities to do so?


4 thoughts on ““The Kids Haven’t Changed. You Have.”

  1. This is so right on Nick! There is nothing like the energy and enthusiasm of youth. We saw first-hand how God can use that in the lives of the Gypsy children and at the English camps. You and Rosemary were a part of the work God allowed through the “open-door” of opportunity.

    1. Those were good times, and they continue. There are a bunch of youngsters in Eger now serving and being used by God. Sometimes I see that older people avoid working with younger people. I think it’s a mistake. I appreciate that you and Rob were never like that.

  2. I am a bit confused. You state that this generation is the same, but then you write that this generation is heroic. Are they the same or different? How does saving the world make them heroic? How do they want to save the world? Did not every generation want to save the world?
    In my opinion, the kids are not the same as when I was younger. Most parents do not give their children real consequences. This was my experience in Hungary as a high school teacher. All the teachers, young and old, made jokes about how it used to be the student’s fault when they misbehaved, now it is the teacher’s fault.
    But i would still work with youth as a teacher in Hungary.

    1. Yes, I think this is a general characteristic of youth in every generation that they are heroic in the sense that they want to do great things and “save the world.”
      I think that Europeans in particular discipline their children less than Americans. That was my observation from living there for 10 years and having kids there.

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