by Brian Sharpe, with an article by Shane Stacey
Here is an article that I read recently that would be good for all of us to read. It was written by Shane Stacey, the National Director for Students Ministries in the Evangelical Free Church. He is highlighting the need for churches to focus on ages 12-22. I am grateful for how you all have supported student and young adult ministries through the years. It has been a focus for Elim and it needs to continue to be a focus.
“10 Reasons Why Youth Are the Strategic Bulls-Eye of our Missional Target”
by Shane Stacey
The “12-22 window” is quickly becoming the largest unreached people group in the world. Young people, ages 12-22, must be a central priority of today’s Church.
In Hurt, Chap Clark writes that today’s adolescents operate within an environment in which adults have largely abdicated their responsibility to mold and shape teenagers’ everyday lives causing them to create an “adolescent underworld.”
Is the church contributing to this underworld? Are we unintentionally abandoning our collective role in reaching and developing young people? We must awaken to the opportunity before us, seeing youth as the most strategic missional focus of our day!
This is true for several reasons:
This is a “tipping point” generation. The Millennials/Gen Y is the largest generation in history (3 billion under 25 globally; 100 million and climbing in America).
Youth are treasured by God. The birth of every new generation is an expression of breadth of the work of the cross that extends to yet another generation. God calls himself the Father to the fatherless (Psalm 68:5), enlisted young people into His redemptive story, and literally mandates the older generation to reach to the next (Psalm 78:3-7).
Youth are wired for passion; looking for a cause. As Kenda Creasy Dean says in Practicing Passion, “Students are looking for something worth dying for and, sadly, all too often we give them pizza.” It is the cause found in the story line of the Scripture that will move young people to live out their unique Ephesians 2:10 purpose in God’s epic story.
Youth are like new wineskins. Youth are incredibly moldable, having far less to unlearn than most adults. If they adopt a disciplemaking way of life in these early years, there is far greater likelihood they will live a lifestyle of multiplication over the next 50 years.
Youth are highly responsive to the gospel. The high majority of those who repent and surrender to Christ do so before their 20th birthday.
Youth are accessible. Nearly 25 million teens will pass through 67,000 middle and high schools before scattering into college campuses, the military and the market place. There is an incredible opportunity for any church that will take the time to collectively pray for, serve and support even just one of their local schools.
Youth are motivated by relationships. One of the core motivations of young people is the need for connection, relationships and community. On top of this, the social media revolution of our day has been invented and driven by young people. Both their motivation for connection and the social economy of the world creates a relationally rich environment through which the gospel can spread.
Youth are globally-connected. Youth are more informed of global news and events than in decades past. This “wired” culture has created a global youth culture that, according to McCann Worldgroup’s article entitled The Truth about Youth, share many of the same core motivations: community, justice and authenticity. This has created a truly global youth culture.
Youth are kingdom contributors, now! We need to believe that young people are empowered by the Holy Spirit, and because they have discretionary time and are indigenous to youth culture, they can be ministers in their own right today.
Jesus modeled it for us. If we are still not convinced, then all we need to do is to look at the strategy of Jesus. Most of Jesus’ disciples were teenagers. There is also good reason to believe that most of the 500 that Paul mentions in 1 Cor.14:6 were young people.
Read the full article (PDF).