What goals do the teens in your church expect to achieve by age 25? And how do those desires fit within a Christian worldview? A new study released in May by The Barna Group provides some perhaps surprising answers to these questions—answers that may give insight to parents, as well as pastors, about the values of their youth.
Researchers asked a nationwide sampling of more than 600 teens what they think their lives will be like by age 25. Almost all—93 percent—said they will definitely or probably have a college degree, and 81 percent said the same of having a great-paying job. Interestingly, 26 percent believed they are very likely to be famous.
What about church and the community? When it comes to actively being involved in church, 63 percent said they definitely or probably will be; only 29 percent, however, believed they will be involved for sure. And while 48 percent believed they most likely will regularly serve the poor, only 7 percent said that will definitely happen.
“Today’s teens are growing up in a reality where the economic climate is going to play a bigger role in their decisions early in life,” says Lesli Klingenmeier, NextGen coordinator at Foursquare’s Mid-Atlantic district, in response to the report. “The message of Christ—’deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me’—will not be a popular message for this generation of teens as they look to the perceived security of a college degree or great-paying job as their priorities. As NextGen leaders, we have an even greater challenge in guiding today’s teens in the true reality that in order to truly gain your life, you need to be willing to lose it for Christ’s sake.”
Ryan Brown, NextGen coordinator for the North Pacific district, echoes Lesli’s sentiments.
“What this study has shown me is that the priorities of a generation and their expectations on life are beginning to shift from a legacy of discipleship and family to a passion for career,” Ryan told Foursquare.org. “We as leaders need to do all we can to create environments and opportunities for young adults to set their priorities beyond their 80-plus years on this earth, and into eternity through leaving a legacy for the generations to come.”
To read the full Barna study, log on to www.barna.org.
By: Bill Shepson, a Foursquare credentialed minister and freelance writer in Los Angeles