Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Dealing With a Generation in Pain - Part 2

In my previous post I began discussing the deep pain the next generation has experienced in their lives. In this post, we will continue that discussion. You may want to read the first post by CLICKING HERE before continuing to read.

Though some of my middle age adult friends give me a hard time about my use of Facebook, I realized early on that Facebook would become a very effective tool for ministering to the next generation. I invest a certain portion of my time talking to young people through this medium. In my discussions with these young people, they feel comfortable sharing about their hurt and pain because they can hide behind their computer screens or their smart phones. Young people have shared with me about their broken and dysfunctional homes that have caused a tremendous amount of sadness in their lives. They have shared about losing friends in various types of tragedies. They have shared about beloved grandparents suffering horribly from cancer or some other illness and then slowly dying. They have shared about being betrayed by good friends or close relatives. They have shared that they were violated sexually by an older friend or relative. Considering the level of pain and hurt the next generation has already experienced, it is a wonder that any of them function at all. Most of them would not have been comfortable talking about those things face to face. But feeling "safe" behind their computer, smart phone or tablet, they bared their soul to someone whom they knew cared.
But Facebook is not the only way I seek to help young people deal with pain. I recall speaking at a large youth rally at a church in our area a couple of years ago. Though I did not know everyone who was there, I knew enough of them to know it was a room full of pain. Many of the young people who were present were from broken homes. Many were from families that faced significant financial challenges. At least five young people present had lost one parent to death, two only forty-eight hours before the rally. Teenagers were present who had been physically and/or sexually abused. One young man present had been bounced from house to house, never quite knowing where home was any particular week. Several dozen had lost friends in car accidents, one only a few weeks before. Others present at the youth rally had lost friends in a horrific house fire that took several lives, and some had lost friends in a freak drowning accident in a normally calm river that ran through the middle of our town. Several of those present were struggling with addictions in their own lives or in the lives of their parents. The group also included at least two cutters (people who intentionally cut themselves so their body will release natural endorphins that make them feel better) and at least three who were struggling with their sexual identity. As I prepared to speak to the group, I could feel the intensity of the group’s pain. I did my best in the 40 minutes that I had their attention to show them that God of love seen their pain, cares about it, and wants to turn what Satan meant for evil into something good.

Those of us who care about reaching the next generation must wrestle with the reality that the next generation is a generation that is in pain. Not only are they dealing with significant emotional issues, but they are also the first generation that will most likely be less well off than their parents. They are inheriting an economy that is in shambles, a morality that has collapsed, and a nation that has lost status on the global scene. With so much stacked against them, the last thing young people need is churches that do not care about their pain or help them with their struggles. Yet that is what many young people find when they occasionally wander into church. No wonder most churches struggle to reach young adults, our sermons, our music, our prayers times, are all about a fairy tale world where if you just think happy thoughts all our problems will go away. If we want to reach the next generation, we are going to have to help young people deal with all this pain, along with the anger that emerges from it. In my next post we will discuss all the anger that emerges from this deep pain.

Adapted from Dr. Dorsett’s book, Mission Possible: Reaching the Next Generation through the Small Church, published by CrossBooks, a division of Lifeway Christian Resources.


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for being there for the youth of our community. They miss you since you have moved to Connecticut.