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Chris Fane's Student Ministry News

A youth ministry blog consisting of a collection of articles and notes related to
student / youth ministry. Gathered by Chris Fane of egadideas.com



Reaching the MySpace Generation

FROM: NETWORK MAGAZINE / BY: DOUG TEGNER

If you were asked to use one word to describe this generation, what would it be?

When I ask youth workers that question, I often hear descriptions such as "searching, hurting, lost, curious, hurt, or skeptical." Some quickly add a more positive twist, "but they are also hopeful, energized, honest, authentic, passionate."

As the Network moves beyond its 25th birthday and tries to envision our next decade of ministry, we have concluded that our challenge and commission is to "Reach an Abandoned Generation of Teenagers."

We see teenagers as abandoned in many ways, often by one or both parents, as well as by other adults within their world. Many adults have missed their God-given responsibility and opportunity to personally involve themselves in a teenager’s life. We believe that this generation may be the least-parented generation of all time.

Is the word "abandoned" too strong? And what about all of the visible signs that kids are connected and socially vibrant, as evidenced by the MySpace phenomenon, where more than 40 million people (mostly teenagers and young adults) gossip, share stories and blog their thoughts and ideas?

Patricia Hersch, in her informative book A Tribe Apart: A Journey into the Heart of American Adolescents, states: "The more we leave kids alone, don’t engage, the more they circle around on the same adolescent logic that has caused dangerous situations to escalate. Young people have not arrogantly turned their backs on the adult world. Rather, they have been forced by a personal sense of abandonment to band together and create their own world – separate, semi-secret, and vastly different from the world around them."

Also, in David Elkind’s A Sympathetic Understanding of the Child: Birth to Sixteen, he observes: "The culture itself is no longer as attentive to the needs of children and adolescents as it once was, and therefore, the young work hard at finding out how to make it on their own. Identity formation requires a kind of envelope of adult standards, values and beliefs that the adolescent can confront and challenge in order to construct and test out his or her own standards, values and beliefs…Today, however, adults have fewer standards, values and beliefs and hold on to them less firmly than was true in the past. The adolescent must therefore struggle to find an identity without the benefit of this supportive adult envelope."

In his book Hurt, Chap Clark points out: "On the surface, the adolescent world appears to be relatively stable and healthy. Yet beneath the calm waters presented by positive empirical data, there is turmoil that is difficult, painful, lonely, and even harmful to our young."

He continues, "Even among those who argue that adolescents are basically fine, virtually no one would question the need young people, and especially adolescents, have for adults who are available, caring, and coming to them without a hidden or self-centered agenda…when adults are not present and involved in their lives, they are forced to figure out how to survive life on their own."

More than ever, we need a mass movement of caring adults to positively reach out to and engage with teenagers in America. Through vibrant, welcoming local churches, healthy local Networks that aim to adopt every school in the area, and adults willing to mentor kids in every conceivable setting, the church – that community of devoted followers of Christ – is needed more than ever.

The mere presence of a youth worker in a student’s life can make a difference. It’s a salt and light issue. For instance, when we communicate with youth through their MySpace pages, we signal that we are "with them" there. Often, meaningful dialogue results. We need a generation of adults who lovingly invite themselves into students’ lives. To Turn the Tide of this generation, we need to initiate relationships with teenagers in all kinds of settings.

>>ORIGINAL ARTICLE HERE
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