Understanding Today’s Youth

Roger Vezeau, College Park UB Church (Huntington, Ind.)

Roger Vezeau is Director of Student Ministries at College Park UB church (Huntington, Ind.) and a member of the denominational Youth Ministry Team.

Today’s youth want community–meaningful, authentic relationships with peers and adults who are not judgmental. They are motivated first by what draws their attention, but they stay when challenged to be part of something bigger than themselves.

Youth are drawn to a community that cares about people and the concerns of the world. They long for a place/community that makes them laugh, brings joy to their lives, and challenges them to think and respond. They want to find the meaning of life and their role in it.

Adults may think that youth are not interested in spiritual things, but nothing could be further from the truth. Teens have a very high interest in God and their spiritual life. They need the freedom to question, doubt, and explore spiritual truth without the judgment from others. On the other hand, they are turned off by judgmental people who care more about protecting what they believe rather than showing people the love of Jesus.

Today’s teens may challenge orthodoxy, but that doesn’t mean they won’t embrace it. They just need to wrestle for their own answers and not be expected to blindly receive their elders’ views. Let’s trust the work of the Holy Spirit to guide as they question.

In my experience, the best way to help youth grow spiritually is through a healthy family surrounding the youth. On the other side is the youth who comes from a broken family or deep hurt, looks for answers, and finds that the world does not deliver the answers it promises.

If they have an authentic, caring, mature adult in their life, they will be more apt to talk about these things. That is how you connect with today’s youth–through authentic, non-judgmental relationships from caring adults. Show them that they matter and that you value them.

1 Comment
  • Mark Vincenti
    Posted at 21:16h, 27 February

    Thanks, Roger.
    I agree that for young people, relationships with authentic, caring, mature adults are the #1 way to help youth grow spiritually. I would emphasize that not only must an adult be non-judgmental and caring, but also living out their convictions (I suspect this is what you mean by “authentic”). The men in my life who impacted me the most as a youth were those who lived out their Christian convictions with integrity and passion(like you, Roger). Their Godly fire made me want to be like them.
    I also thoroughly agree that today’s teens challenge orthodoxy at times but that doesn’t mean they won’t embrace it. I have found that many times they are seeking to create new avenues for the expression and experience of life with Jesus because the cultural dynamics around them have shifted from what we adults knew.
    Differences in language and metaphors are being created by the next generation in order for them to fully understand, embrace, and proclaim the Gospel in their world. We must strive to listen to these young saints as they work out their salvation “with fear and trembling”, because if we do, we may begin to understand where they are coming from and recognize that their theology is often just as solid and at times, even more biblical than our own.

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