Are younger Christians generally drifting away from God into convictionless Postmodernism? Some are, and therefore we need to give constant warnings about the danger of apostasy. However, at least in the circle of people I know, I believe that young Christians as a group are much stronger now than in the 1970’s when I was a teenager and young adult. Perhaps it’s because I’m blessed to work with some exceptional youth, but I see a number of areas in which I believe that many modern young Christians beat my generation of teens from the 1970’s hands down.
1. More willingness to show spiritual interest – Frankly, almost all congregations I knew in the 1970’s had a group of disinterested teenagers clumped on the back row, sometimes smirking and sometimes simply looking bored. I hardly see that now. Instead, in most congregations there is a group of teens and older children on the front rows, singing, taking notes or listening carefully.
2. More willingness to be open about spiritual challenges (James 5:16). There was often a “hush hush” mentality regarding personal spiritual struggles in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Many individuals fought their spiritual battles alone, afraid to confide in others for fear of being ostracized. Not so today! I hear many young disciples who are willing to confide in others about their struggles with lust, pride and materialism. Not only do they confess their sins, but also take concrete steps to help each other in battling their temptations. Thank God for them!
3. More emphasis on humility – Most young disciples I know today hate pride. Though most preachers I knew in the 1960’s and 1970’s were humble and hard working, there were also a number of frankly cocky characters that caused harm in the kingdom. That type of preacher completely turns off most young disciples today and that is a blessing! I believe there is much less “preacheritis” now than in my youth.
4. More emphasis on prayer – I don’t remember a single prayer meeting among my young Christian peers in the 1970’s. I remember a number of singings for young Christians but no time dedicated primarily to group prayer. Now, there are regular gatherings of young Christians (and also older ones) designed to pour out our hearts to our heavenly Father. I believe that collective prayer life is much more vibrant among disciples of the 2010’s than those of the 1970’s.
5. Independence and anti-denominationalism – The 1950’s and 1960’s saw intense pressure among known churches of Christ to line up with the official line of the “Church of Christ” denomination and support its approved schools, benevolent organization, papers and other denominational machinery. Modern young disciples today are turned off by that approach and resist any efforts to force others to “line up” with a party line.
6. A desire to know the Bible in its context rather than just “proof texts.” – I doubt many in my peer group in the 1970’s could tell you what the book of 1 Peter was about, much less Habakkuk or Haggai. We could all quote Acts 2:38 and Mark 16:16 but would have difficulty giving a summary of many of Paul’s epistles. I believe that a much higher percentage of young Christians now have a working knowledge of the theme of various books.
Of course, we must not overlook texts that back up fundamental Bible teaching, so called “proof texts.” The New Testament writers quoted such texts repeatedly. There needs to be more Bible memorization of “proof texts,” even as we continue to emphasize an analysis of the Bible in its context.
Why this positive transformation among many young disciples today? Perhaps the fact that the world is more evil now than ever is opening eyes of more parents today to the fact that they must emphasize spirituality and separation from the world in their parenting. Perhaps teens themselves are put off by the shallow carnality and selfishness they see among their peers and realize the need to seek God to get away from that. Whatever the reason, I am thankful to God that I see more faith and spiritual hunger among most young disciples now than I saw in the 1970’s.
I am not naïve about the unique spiritual dangers that face the young now than in the 1970’s. In particular, there is a tendency to underestimate the importance of having Bible authority along with naiveté about the historical consequences of that trend. However, I am confident that the unique strengths of many young disciples will help in the battle against presumption and other spiritual enemies.
(Es un artículo que trata de Corrientes entre Iglesias norteamericanas y por tanto no pienso traducirlo.)