The Teen Decade - Two-thousand eighTEEN (part 1 of 5)
"God, in 2018, I promise to bring this teen generation before you for The Greatest Awakening America has ever seen!"
For 5 years now I have been calling youth leaders to "The Teen Decade". It is the one time in a century that we have the teen years (2013-2019). There are only two years left.
This is a great time to emphasize an Awakening in the teenagers of our country. America has seen probably four spiritual shifts in her history (The 1st and 2nd Great Awakenings of the mid 1700's and the mid 1800's with Jonathan Edwards and Charles Finney and others, the Azusa Revival of the early 1900's with William Seymour and others, and the Jesus Movement of the mid 1900's with Billy Graham and others.)
Teens Today Have Never Seen A Religious Awakening
And we are poised for another spiritual renewal soon. To usher this shift into modern America, we are asking for 'A Thousand Personal Revivals' that will spark The Next Great Awakening. The American youth culture is in desperate need for a spiritual renewal. And out of great need can come greater works. This should be one of the most exciting times for the youth leaders of our country. At a time when the hearts of young people are failing, it is a great time for spiritual youth leadership. Here are a 4 spiritual challenges for 2018:
THE LIMITS OF PROGRAMMING AND EVENTS
Those things are important to a holistic youth ministry. I know that we need systems and administration. And I know that teens want to party and have a good time. But, programming and events are not the central catalyst for an Awakening of national proportion. That takes something different. It takes an interruption of our regularly scheduled activities. It will take desperation like the feeding of the 5,000 or the explosion of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles in the Book of Acts. It is much easier to pastor and lead an Awakening than it is to plan and start one.
DISCIPLESHIP IN YOUTH MINISTRY
The importance of theology and its relationship with discipleship is inseparable. And I believe it is desirable. Remember, what you get them with, you have to keep them with. The latest program and event can become stale after time. And expensive. Roller coasters do attract teens. But, students become familiar with these. Besides, it is very expensive to build a new roller coaster every year to attract teens. Just ask Disney or Great America, or Cedar Point. Because of the break-up and the re-definition of the family, we need mentoring and coaching in this generation like never before. That will require youth leaders to become biblical in the lives of teens.
MAJORING ON CULTURALISM AND CHRISTIANITY
Let me explain that. They are not exclusive. I do believe that youth leaders should be our greatest sociologists. And that we must understand the times and know what to do, as the tribe of Issachar in the Old Testament. We should be able to see the shifts and the signs of movement in our society. But, we cannot transform people with currency or fads or sociology. That takes theology. Culture will always follow scripture. Especially if scripture is lived outside the temple. Remember, more miracles in the New Testament happened outside of the religious setting than inside of it.
BRINGING SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE AND DESPERATION IN YOUTH MINISTRY
It has become clear in scripture and history that desperation is a pre-cursor for a move of God. We live in a completely un-recognizable America in comparison to 50 years ago. Not because of the industrial revolution or the information age, the failure of government, or the social media wave. But, because of the failure of the Church. This organizational and religious decline must be stopped. We need youth leaders who will listen to the Holy Spirit and partner with Him to architect a move of the Kingdom in our youth ministry across America.
No Longer A Christian Nation?
Just a few years ago, one of the unique traits of our country's DNA was re-stated. President Obama stated in 2010, "America is no longer a Christian nation..." Now, please don't go political on me right now. He may have been more right in saying this than wrong. But, we must understand that from the top of our nation's leadership, we need to profess the founding principles that were so evident in our beginnings.
I get the context from President Obama's quote. That we are now Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and pagan (or unbelieving). But, just because our nation has become diverse culturally, doesn't mean that we must become divisible scripturally.
And because of this vacuum, this teenage generation has a chance to bring in the Next Great Awakening.
The Next Great Awakening
In this Teen Decade, we have 7 years to believe for another spiritual movement in America. If we continue at the pace we are entrenched at this time, we will look more similar to Europe and its religious climate; full of Church buildings but devoid of true believers filling these Churches. How do we return? Or, how do we move forward? I believe it begins with the youth leaders of our nation restoring discipleship and spiritual desperation in this teen generation. PRAYER, FASTING, WORSHIP, GIVING, JUSTICE, and SPIRITUAL FORMATION IN THE WORD are all vital needs for this American teen world.
We will break each of these down practically in the month of January. Welcome to the last 2 years of The Teen Decade!