There has never been a generation in America which the overwhelming majority had an aimless sense of absolutes and truth. As the body of Christ, we must understand the current crisis in order to make the Gospel relevant to the world this generation lives in.
The enemy has launched an attack unlike anything ever seen before. In addition to recent shootings, other phenomenons are occurring in youth culture such as:
• 83% of teens believe truth is relative.1
• Roughly 88 % of evangelical children are leaving church after high school graduation. 2
• Pornography revenue is larger than the combined revenues of all professional football, baseball, and basketball franchises. 3
Today, media can soak young people's minds without parental scrutiny. Gone are the old days of three television channels. Nanos, Shuffles, I Pods, and Mac Books all make music, movies, TV programs, and internet sites readily accessible. Kids are staring at television and computer screens up to 55 hours a week4 and listening to an average of 40 hours of music each week .5
Teen culture is being sexualized like never before. Teens exposed to sexual innuendos are twice as likely to get involved in sexual behavior than those not exposed.6 There are 6.7 sexual references an hour during family-hour television7 and 3000 soft core porn images on MTV a week!8 It's no wonder that 47% of high school students report they have lost their virginity.9
Young America is experiencing a new wave of what has been coined "Point and click pornography." This all out assault is aimed at 12-17 year olds, currently the largest viewers of online pornography.10 If that is not shocking enough, 90% of kids doing homework get unwanted sexual solicitation.10
What works evangelistically?
As we endeavor to communicate the gospel to teens we need to realize our frame of reference is completely different than theirs. As Paul mentioned in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, we need to become all things to all people. We need to meet teens where they are at and present the Biblical truth that God changes hearts and lives in a way that sounds unreligious. Teens are often very spiritual but run from hyper-religious vernacular.
During an interview with secular media, I was explaining the message we present to young people in everyday language. I said something like, "God can give them a brand new heart." She responded, "Is that like being born again or radical for Jesus?" Every time she interviewed religious leaders, they used one-liners the rest of the world doesn't understand. She asked me if she could define our "Christian code words" in the article so readers would understand what we are talking about. We must abandon Christian jargon and clearly communicate the Gospel of Christ.
Young people do not need to be patronized by a watered-down Gospel. Entertainment should not be the way we motivate them to commit to Christ. We need to communicate the Gospel in an understandable way and allow them to deeply contemplate turning away from the world and running passionately towards Christ. Kids who are cutting, suicidal, or are from families that are falling apart need to be shown the love of God. Reality is that no drugs, alcohol, or psychiatrist can heal like the power and forgiveness of Christ.
The rise of a new generation
As a result of hearing Christ's life changing message in plain English and allowing them to count the cost of becoming a follower of Christ, we have seen thousands of youth become disciples of Jesus. It's exciting to watch them take a stand and reach their peers!
We have limited time to reach this generation. 2/3 of those who follow Christ choose to do so before turning 18.11 Free materials are available at www.BattleCry.com that give ideas and tools to help young people. You can also join the BattleCry Coalition that unites over 100,000 committed adults and young people.
It's absolutely imperative for the entire church to take responsibility for reaching youth—not just the pastors. Even if you don't have tattoos or feel "called" to youth ministry, you can still do something significant to impact young people in your hometown. This is the Church's moment to step up, be the force that penetrates a depraved culture, and rescue the young people of America.
1. Barna study released in February 2002. Source: http://www.barna.org/FlexPage.aspx?Page=BarnaUpdate&BarnaUpdateID=106
2. SBC's Council on Family Life reported in 2002. Source: http://pandagon.net/2006/08/08/slipping-from-the-fundie-grasp/
4. http://www.next-gen.biz/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3947&Itemid=2 http://churchrelevance.com/category/ministry/youth-ministry/ http://www.parentstv.org/ptc/facts/mediafacts.asp http://www.digitalcenter.org/pages/news_content.asp?intGlobalId=125
6. Rand Corporation. http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9068/index1.html
7. Kaiser Family Foundation
11. Barna Study released October 11, 2004. Source. http://www.barna.org/FlexPage.aspx?=BarnaUpdate&BarnaUpdateID=172.
Ron Luce is the founder of Teen Mania, one of the world's largest Christian youth organizations, which inspires, empowers, and equips teens to reject the negative influences of pop culture and embrace the "coolness" of Christ. This year, Teen Mania is rallying hundreds of thousands of teens in the BattleCry movement to save their generation. For more information, visit www.BattleCry.com.