GENERATIONAL COHESION IS a biblical concept. God wants the young and old to come together and support each other. When we understand how important generational unity is to the Lord, we can bridge the gap between the generations.
God’s heart has always been for kids and youth. In Matthew chapter 18, the disciples were arguing about who was the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. They went to Jesus and asked Him to solve the dispute. He told them that unless they turned from their sins and became as little children, they would not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus said anyone who humbled themselves like a child was the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven (Matt. 18:1–4).
In that time and culture, children were considered low on the totem pole. They were almost nonexistent. For Jesus to say that a child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven was shocking. Even when it wasn’t popular, God’s heart has always been toward children and youth.
Passing the Baton
It is the older generation’s responsibility to teach the things of God to the next generation. God designed it that way so future generations would know, trust, and obey Him.
Psalm 78:2–4 (NLT)
2 For I will speak to you in a parable. I will teach you hidden lessons from our past—
3 stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us.
4 We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders.
Psalm 71:18 (NLT)
18 Now that I am old and gray, do not abandon me, O God. Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me.
God commanded us to teach the next generation, not look down on them. But to effectively teach them, we have to understand what they are facing.
This generation is crying out for “relational” Christianity.Denise Hagin Burns
People born after 1996 are known as Generation Z or Gen Z. They are also called the iGeneration. I am excited about this group of young people. I believe they will usher in the Second Coming of Christ. But we need to understand them so we can know how to bridge the gap.
Generation Z has never known life without the internet or a cellphone. Ninety-five percent of teenagers have a smartphone,* and they spend most of their waking hours online.
This age group lives their life online, and they are addicted to seeing how many “likes” they have. It shoots off dopamine—a feel-good hormone—in their brain. Studies show that social media and the need for “likes” is changing the way their brains develop.
Sadly, Generation Z has more access to pornography than any generation before them. The majority have seen pornography online. In a culture where sexuality and gender are questioned, less than half consider themselves completely heterosexual.
After high school, more students leave the church than stay in it. They don’t see how the Bible is relevant to their lives. During their school years, their lives are filled with activities. So much so that the average kid in a youth group only attends church 40 hours a year!
The Body of Christ can no longer bury its head and pretend these problems don’t exist within the church. It may be uncomfortable to talk about, but we must address them or risk losing our young people to the world.
The church cannot fix the problem alone! To combat these issues, parents and the church must work together to teach this generation how to live in the power of the Holy Spirit.
When asked who they looked to for spiritual support, hands down, teens said their parents. They didn’t go to their friends, youth leaders, or adults in their church. They followed what their parents did—not their words, but their actions.
It should make us pause and think about what we are modeling to future generations. Is it all talk? Or are they seeing our faith lived out in a way that is real and personal? This generation is crying out for “relational” Christianity.
Many high school seniors turn away from their faith after graduation. The reason is that no one taught them how to have a relationship with Jesus. They have been told how to act—what to do and what not to do. But they haven’t been shown how to have an intimate relationship with the Lord and how to apply it to their lives.
I’ve worked with children and teens for a long time. I have found that Gen Zs are crying out for attention from their parents more than anything else. Their number one complaint and prayer request is “Can you pray for my mom and dad? They’re always on their phone. I just want them to pay attention to me.” Time and again, they have said they want their parents to put down their phone and spend time with them.
“Distracted parenting” is a phenomenon psychologists are writing about. The overuse of technology and social media among parents is causing them to be distracted and disengaged from their children. Parents are physically present in their children’s lives, but they are less emotionally attuned. It is affecting and shaping this generation and wreaking havoc in families. We can’t afford to be distracted and miss teachable moments with our kids while Satan is attacking them like never before.
What is a teachable moment? It’s bringing God into conversations when your children ask questions. This generation is looking for answers, and we have them.
We Need to Pray
One day I asked the Lord how the Body of Christ could help this generation. He said that we need to pray. We must intercede for our youth so they will know the power of the Holy Spirit.
My grandfather, Kenneth E. Hagin, used to say, “A move of the Spirit will be lost if we don’t teach it to the next generation.” There has never been a generation more in jeopardy of losing the power, the anointing, and the Spirit of God. The world has become loud while the church remains silent.
It is our job to raise up passionate followers of Jesus Christ. Parents, the church, and the older generations need to contend for our youth. We must get on our knees and fight the spiritual battle waged against them. Then the power of the Holy Spirit will not be lost to the next generation, and they will be prepared to usher in the Second Coming of the Lord.
*“Teens, Social Media & Technology 2018.” Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C. (May 31, 2018) pewinternet.org/2018/05/31/teens-social-media-technology-2018/
Denise Hagin Burns
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