Family, Marriage, Counsel
Today's Youth: New and Improved
by Ed Vasicek
"Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come." (Ecclesiastes 12:1a)
Are today's youth better in some ways than youth from years gone by? I have been reading tidbits here and there to the effect that more high school and college age people have been volunteering to serve their communities and churches. Indeed, it does seem that something good is happening among our young people.
But this "good thing" that is happening is not happening to all young people-perhaps not to most. Broken families take their toll. Situation ethics—that there are no absolute rights and wrongs—these trends devastate so many of our young people. But what does seem to be happening is this: today's youth are polarizing. The good ones are better than ever, the bad ones, worse than ever.
Working with our youth this summer (and other young people in recent years) has been an eye-opener. Young people in greater numbers are more prone to volunteer, to serve, to get down to serious business about serving God. The clearest evidence of this is seen in our local Child Evangelism Fellowship Organization. Three or four years ago, CEF only had two Summer Missionaries. The number of Summer Missionaries this year is 25. Count 'em, 25. You heard me. This number includes one of our own, Matt Cooney.
A good number of our own HPC young people have helped in constructing the Kokomo Rescue Mission's "Open Arms" shelter. They are interested in understanding the cults, apologetics, witnessing, and missions. They are less selfish than my generation.
Today's young person enters a world more hostile toward the Gospel than the world I entered. Every belief is tolerated except ours. It did not used to be that way. Because evangelical churches have compromised on even the absolutes, many of our young people are not being as well grounded as they could be. But many are solid and rooted in the faith.
When I finally reached the age of 18 in 1974, today's nasty trends were well underway: drugs, promiscuity, R-rated movies, and abandonment of the Judeo-Christian value system. But it has gotten worse since then, much worse. Yet my perception is that God is raising up an army of soldiers—special elite forces—that will be bold and strong for the Kingdom of God. Many of these remarkable Christian young people hail from unusually strong homes where parents lived their faith and parented by conviction rather than simply following the trends. Others have come to faith from all sorts of backgrounds but have seriously sought to follow the Lord. Oh, sure, they have their unique problems and weaknesses. But, all in all, they are a new—and I think improved—generation.
Over the next few years, I think we will see the polarization continue. Christian youth will grow in zeal and dedication, but evil will correspondingly grow more intense. It will be the devil or the Lord with few in-between. But if there is a glimmer of hope for the future of the evangelical church, it is the generation stepping into the batter's box. We have to keep them in our solid churches and send them up through the ranks. We simply must.
Reprinted from the August 2002 Body Builder, a publication of Highland Park Church.
Highland Park Church
516 West Sycamore Street
Kokomo, Indiana, USA