The youth culture: (cont.)

This is the second part of a two part series. If you haven’t read the first part you may want to read it first before moving on.

In the last blog, we asked if the younger culture’s questioning should be dismissed or looked down at? The answer is, NO. The older generation should embrace this great opportunity to learn about the younger generation and mentor them. Some of my fondest memories were when I use to visit a neighbor that was an Air Force retiree and we would talk for hours on the back porch about life or he help me fix my bicycle. He was a great mentor in my life and his actions showed he cared.

One thing I have learned is, when you have a questioning audience, you develop a better understanding of the subject. Additionally, investing your time into 1 or 2 younger people is essential to understanding how to relate to them, guide them through struggles, and most of all, help when you can. Actions do speak louder than words. If all you do is dismiss their ideas, then you are giving them a reason to dismiss you and eventually leave for what they feel is a better way of life. The younger generation should not be viewed as the rebellious culture, because they question certain beliefs or try to have a deeper understanding by questioning others. On the flip side, the younger generation could learn a lot from previous generations. Each generation should respect the others’ viewpoint – Gen X, Baby Boomers, and Traditionalist, although you may not agree with it.

The one thing I was hoping to see is if sermons might be changing because the listener is changing. However, I didn’t see evidence that actual sermons are changing to help facilitate the youth’s desire to participate in the weekly sermons. To engage the younger audience we do see changes in the worship service by creating different venues, or creating different small groups. However, the sermon itself has not changed much in the way of delivery.

Listeners, especially the younger generation, are wanting more engagement with the speaker(s). In other words, they don’t like to just be preached at by the pastor, but instead have the opportunity to ask those hard and unfiltered questions. They don’t want to be a listener all the time, especially when a preacher won’t listen to their side of the story or answer their questions. This is a dramatic change from past generations because historically preachers took the stage and delivered their sermon with little audience interaction.

Why do they strive to have a more interactive sermon? It comes down to relationships. The younger generation are forming their own path with others. They are tighter in their relationships with one another – almost to a fault. Youth culture is ‘high on relationships and low on structure’ according to Pastor Wolf. If you think about churches today and in the past – how are they structured? They are heavy on structure as in the programs offered, buildings for worship, sermons presented by one person typically, denominational rules and policies, etc. Churches represent a top down approach as to the way things are completed. This is the exact opposite of what the younger culture seeks. The youth of churches like interaction, however is this how things are presented in a Sunday’s service? Most would agree – it isn’t.

Is it time to change the sermon format or has your church experimented with other ideas that try to reach the various generational cultures? Which ones were successful or not? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.

-From Icon Systems