Working with young adults for almost 2 years the one thing I seem to hear from people is how lost this generation is. How “secular” they are becoming and how most are abandoning the faith. People give me statistics about how after high school a huge majority of kids fall away. I even had one prominent Christian speaker tell me that the biggest problem in the church today is the young men and the lack of depth in their lives.
While the statistics are indeed a bit discouraging and the truth is, many young people are not following the faith of their parents. The bigger implications and problems I believe in what I have seen is in the older generations lack of mentoring and teaching these young people. The reality is that every young Timothy or Titus needs a older, wiser Paul to walk through life with. Sadly in much of what I see this is not the case. And even worse there are many older men and women who simply are not equipped to teach and raise up these younger people. The lack of depth of younger generations is simply a reflection of the generation that went before it.
The problem I believe is not in the younger generation,although they have many problems for sure. The problem is, is that older men and women don’t feel a urge, need to train up those that are younger. We have become such a niche marketplace in the church that we think each generation needs to be an island to themselves. While I am not at all against having youth groups, college groups and whatever else, the danger can be that, we stop there. We can section off to the point of comfort and ease.
Let’s be honest, living life with a young 20 something who is struggling with relationships, porn, worry about life, is not easy. It takes commitment, it takes sacrifice, and it takes being willing to count others before yourself. It also means being willing to wrestle with tough questions about life and theology. It means being willing to be teachable as well as knowledgeable. Being an older mentor does not mean you have all the answers, instead it means you have the wisdom to lead in the pursuit of these answers.
I council many young men and it is not easy, it is frustrating, and it does drain me of energy sometimes, but it is not about me. If I believe that I have been saved, not just from wrath, but to a community, and a kingdom in which every part of life is affected, then I must be willing to live in that community in a way that is fitting for my age and role. So if I am a 50 year old I need to find a 20 year old to disciple, or if I am a 70 year old I need to find a 50 year old. Sometimes it may mean a 25 year old mature Christian will lead out and train up a 28 year old baby Christian as was the case for me when I became a believer. It is usually, but not always about age.
That is living life in community, and honestly that is what more and more of our young people need today than games, music and entertainment. I am 28 years old and know and feel the pull of culture telling me that community is only generational or socio-economic. I see however in scripture this is not true at all, and that my soul needs and yearns for men to pour into my life as much as I know I need to pour into others.
Scripture does not tell the older to wait till a younger person is in trouble to then step in. Nor does scripture tell an older person to wait till a younger person approaches them to meet. Scripture commands the older to seek out the younger (Titus 2: 1-5).
So let me plead with you older men and women, even if you think you are not that much older, to seek out a younger person to live life with. To weep with, to rejoice with, to invest in and to count better than yourself.