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  • Hannah Williamson

Learning from a cause-drive, passion-filled generation...


Over the past few years it has been noted that the younger generations are a lot more cause-driven in their approach to life. In James Emery White’s book, ‘Meet Generation Z,’ he says of the younger generation ‘they are marked by a very strong sense of wanting to make a difference – and thinking that they can.’ A friend of mine, a few days ago amidst the protests about racism, drove down to central London to pray. He was telling me how even at midnight hundreds of young adults were wandering around, driven with passion to see the issue of racism challenged and ultimately changed. In light of this I wanted to write about what I think we can learn from this cause-driven, passion-filled generation and how it could impact what the future of the church looks like.



1. It could help us show a more accurate picture of Jesus.

‘In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus, who being in very nature God did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant…’ Philippians 2:5-7

In my time in youth ministry, I noted over the years how so many young people valued the relational time spent together in small groups. Although we would often allot 30 minutes to small group time, many groups went on for far longer. In a world full of social media, computer screens and gaming this always fascinated me. There was a longing for relationship. When it came to helping or caring for others, I found particularly the older end of youth had big hearts. With young adults this became even more so. In fact, even while writing this I had a voice note from a woman in her mid-twenties who had delivered food and baby supplies to a family via our church foodbank. The voice note was asking how she could appropriately keep in contact as the woman was lonely but overwhelmed by our care. This young adult with a busy job in central London was willing to give beyond even what we would expect in this area of social action as she saw this woman’s need for connection. I hope we will be able to help our young people to be able to reach out in meaningful ways to those around them and so show a picture of how Jesus serves and loves.


A few thoughts for youth pastors/youth leaders: How are you opening up opportunities for your young people/young adults to be able to serve people like Jesus did? The poor, the struggling, the sick?


2. It could open the doors of church up.

‘Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations….’ Matthew 28:19

Injustice cannot just be broken by someone standing in a pulpit preaching. It requires people who will go into the places of injustice and bring about change. The poor cannot be fed in a bible study, but by people going out to the streets or the homes in need and giving necessary food. Those who are struggling with mental health are not always shouting about their problems in the ‘pew’ but are often isolated in homes wondering if anyone cares and possibly putting up some strong statements on social media. I believe the younger generation feel these needs as they work amongst them, live amongst them, scroll through them on social media or are friends with people struggling. It is in their jobs that they realise they can help. It is in their schools that they are forced before pain that people are feeling. Suddenly, they are the ones who can offer support and help. They cannot just invite them to church as the need is too immediate. They need to say something then and there. Just maybe this cause-driven, passion-filled generation will be able to be the church in every environment they find themselves in. They may just bring their friends to church after they have led them to Jesus.

A few thoughts for youth pastors/pastors: how are you helping your young people learn how to answer the big questions or even lead people to Jesus in their schools or workplaces?



3. It could create a more selfless church.

‘Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.’ Philippians 2:3-4

Because this generation is cause-driven and passion-filled they may begin to think about others more. I have found recently, in starting our food bank that some of those helping who are younger are eager to be part of the project and make it known that this is what they love about our church. As I have pondered why that is, it reminds me of their cause-driven nature. They believe they can impact change. In serving the poor, they are having to give of themselves. In buying food in a grocery store, they are having to take time to queue, pack bags and deliver in a time when it is no simple task to go shopping! Their time, outside of often very busy jobs is given to serving. I wonder whether this attitude of service will encourage selflessness in the church. Maybe people will begin to think less about what they take from a service and more about what they can give to a town?

A few thoughts for youth pastors/pastors: How are you modelling selflessness to the younger generation?


4. We could have more impact on societal change.

“The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ's body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.” Ephesians 1:23 (MSG)

This point excites me. Imagine a church that actually impacts a community, a town, a nation? For this cause-driven, passion-filled younger generation they are not always content to do a job that ‘just makes money’ – they want to do a job that has lasting change. I am greatly inspired by the vision of Watoto church in Uganda which is aiming to raise up a new generation of Ugandan leaders. What a vision! I believe the younger generation of Jesus followers will be able to make a mark into society because they will see their lives as full of purpose. They may work hard to get degrees and get jobs that impact change in the higher areas of society – within the justice system, in government, in education. They may be able to see their role as Jesus followers and as part of the church more closely linked with the change that they can bring through their careers. I remember meeting with a young adult in our church who had become a local councillor. She had not lived in the borough all of her life as I had but she was passionate about bringing change through our local council. I was inspired that in her spare time, this is what she would do.

A few thoughts for youth pastors/pastors: How are you helping young people/young adults to bring change into society?



 

A few ideas to mobilise this cause-driven, passion-filled generation….

1. Take them on mission to a place of need – it will move their spirit to action.

2. Engage them in social action projects.

3. Help them link their Christian Faith to their work lives.

4. Encourage them to dream of ways of bringing change and then release them to outwork those dreams.

5. Encourage passion for justice even if their passion is somewhat raw and uncomfortable.

6. Listen to what they are passionate about and take the time to understand why.

7. Model servanthood as a leader.

8. Encourage, encourage, encourage!

9. Create groups that are highly relational but also highly cause-driven

10. Ask for their input in how the church can impact the local area.

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