OPINION: Kids these days

By Aaron Evans,

Kids these days, man I tell ya.

This is a common phrase usually uttered by older generations to describe the current state of the younger generations.  If we take a glance at the current state of affairs, it is no wonder many teenagers today seem to be disrespectful and out of control.  

Jeremiah 50:6- My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their resting place.

Many kids, from a generalized standpoint, do not know how to act, because they have never been taught how to act.  If kids see mom and dad being disrespectful, that is how the is going to act.  Kids imitate their families.   Eric Erikson states that during the time of toddlerhood, the toddler is learning autonomy, self-reliance, and confidence through imitation of their caregivers. If the little girl or little boy idolizes “mommy” then the toddler will imitate what mommy does.  That is why many little girls will play with baby dolls by feeding them, rocking them, or putting them to bed.  What if the mommy is a bad mommy and all the child sees is an angry, violent mommy?  The toddler will begin to imitate mommy by being aggressive.  The same is true with boys.  They will imitate their daddy.  Monkey see Monkey do.  We learn language by what we hear around us.  I learned how to speak in my Appalachian accent because I learned the words and phrases from my environment.  Urie Bronfenbrenner’s theory on the ecological system is built on a complex system of relationships.  The microsystem of immediate household relations, the mesosystem of extended family, churches, and neighborhoods, the exosystem or the general culture, and the macrosystem of generalized society, all influence the development and well-being of a child.  Judging by most of the culture, society, and family relationships today, how do we think the children are adapting and imitating?  

Let us take a journey to the past for a minute.  The WW2 generation of GI warriors and Rosie the Riveters is often called the greatest generation.  After the war, America entered into one of the greatest economic climates in history.  The generation they produced became known as the baby boomers.  This generation effectively gave way to the Counterculture movement.  This generation adopted passive resistance and rebellion to the conservative morals that were taught at the time and embraced a period many associate with the Hippie movement.  Yes, there was good that came from this time, such as the much-needed civil rights movement, but there was resistance to the things of God as well.  It was not aggressive, but subtle.  While the Baby Boomers offered a countercultural passive resistance, Generation X offered a more aggressive resistance to religious principles and teachings.  Generation X may not have invented rebellion or the party scene, but they sure did perfect it.  Generation X brought forth the Millennial generation.  This generation became one of the most educated and entitled generation in history.  This generation did not passively resist, or even aggressively resist the things of God, but simply did not care about God or the church.  Many in this generation were brought to church by grandparents, but once they reached a certain age, they left and did not look back.  So, the question is, who is taking the current generation to church?  I heard a preacher the other night say that we have already lost the millennial generation, we need to put our efforts into reaching Gen Z and Alpha.  

Gen Z and Alpha have as much knowledge about God as many third-world nations or isolated communities.  I was speaking to a teenager who had never heard of even the basic bible stories.  We live in the bible-belt, USA and he had never heard the story of Adam and Eve, Noah’s Ark, David and Goliath, Daniel and the Lion’s Den, or anything regarding Jesus.  There is no understanding of the afterlife or consideration of it.  I am going to make a bold statement to all Christians, we have failed these kids.  WE HAVE FAILED THESE KIDS.  Instead of instilling in them grace, forgiveness, assurance, and love, we have instilled in them fear, resentment, anxiety, and dread.  How many apocalyptical events has this generation lived through?  How many times are they instructed to live in fear?  Gone are the days of fire drills and storm drills, now kindergartners and high schoolers alike are having active shooter drills.  The political left wants to blame the political right and the Republicans want to blame the Democrats.  The blame is on the church and the Christians who have given in to the pointless and senseless arguments instead of working through the fear to instill hope.  These kids do not have hope.  This is why they act out or give in to suicide.  This is why they cut themselves with razor blades and use drugs and alcohol in middle school.  These teenagers are empty inside.  Those who know God, can at least cry out to Him or rest in the fact that “this world is not my home, I am just a passing through.”  What do these kids have to rest in?  What do these teenagers hope for?  Social Media?  Fatherless homes? Angry people?  An exhausted education system filled with terrified teachers?  I have seen teenagers cut themselves with razor blades so badly that it looks like they have fileted or skinned themselves from wrist to elbow.  I have seen teenagers take pill after pill in the hope to feel good one last time before they die of an overdose. I have seen teenagers prostitute themselves in the hope to feel loved.  I had a teenage boy tell me the other day, “My mom is dead, my dad left, my guardian has cancer, I have been molested and beat up, so yes, I don’t care about World War II and yes, I smoke weed to sleep at night.”  Why does a 13-year-old boy have to cry because his mom loves her drug dealer more than him?  Is there any wonder why a 14-year girl has trust issues after she has been molested and raped by every male in her household?  When I had to talk with a teenage boy with an “attitude” and “severe anger issues”, he broke down and cried.  He explained that everyone in his life left him or gave him up.  He has no one who cares for him.  He said, “No one wants me, man, how else am I supposed to act.” With all this going on, we still say, “Kids these days.”  

Instead of working through the uncomfortable conversations, the older generations complain about the younger.  Phrases such as, “That kid was a bad one from the start,” or, “he never had a chance,” are uttered.  “These kids just don’t want to come to church anymore,” but the church has never opened the doors wide enough to allow them to come in.  The “church” was never designed to remain behind four walls, but instead it was designed to be in the community.  The “church time” is a time to grow as a collective, unified body, and train to reach the world.  Every person who has been saved has been saved to reach the lost.  The Matthew 28 commission was given to the disciples, just as all Christians are called to be disciples, to go into all the world.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.  Before a person can step into the world, they must first step into their community.  Every person has a ministry.  Every person has a job to do.  If you are not doing your job, then you are either too ill or too lazy.  How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:14).  You are the preacher, Christian.  

So many Christians are praying for revival, but they are not willing to start it themselves.  Revival is not a 7-night Sunday night service of the same thing.  Revival is a renewal.  The definition of revival is an improvement in the condition or strength of something, an instance of something becoming popular, active, or important again, and a new production of an old play or similar work.  Our prayers should not be limited to a revival in the church.  Our prayers should be directed toward revival in Walmart.  Revival in the drug houses.  Revival in our schools.  Revival in our homes.  Revival in gas stations.  Revival in every aspect of our macrosystem.  When a true gospel message is given to the kids in their environment, they listen.  So many times, they hold on to every word in hope that some of that grace, and peace, and joy might find its way into their hearts.  They are empty shells, and sponges just waiting to be filled with love.  They desire love.  They desire affection.  They desire something more than the miserable existence that we have provided for them.  People talk about what type of physical world we will leave future generations, but I want to know what kind of world are we giving the current generation to live in.  

Stop with the Religiocentrism and ethnocentrism in our kids.  Kids today do not care about your denomination, they need Jesus.  Kids today do not care about your politics, especially in the church, they want Jesus.  Kids today do not care about your superior theology, they want Jesus.  Stop sugarcoating the messages, just give them the truth.  Stop instilling fear in our kids.  Stop instilling hate in our kids.  No politician is going to save us.  No athlete is going to save us.  No singer is going to save us.  Jesus has already paid the price.  Stop binding heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.  (Matthew 23:4).

Kids these days, man I tell ya.  They are so lost.  They are so broken.  Broken and confused kids will become broken and confused adults.  Let us stop this cycle of brokenness and introduce them to Jesus.  He fixes broken things.  


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