This is why I think the biggest thing in all this talk about numbers is relationships. As always it is important for you to be connected with your students or that a leader is connected with your students so that your students hurts, struggles, and outlooks on life can be understood and that student can properly be ministered to. So every time you hear some alarming statistics, step back, think about your students, and then take the proper next step for your context. Having said that, there are a few statistics which you may or many not have heard that I am finding to be trends that are affecting the majority of this generation and not just small segments of it. Hopefully they will give you some insight into the teens you are trying to reach.
1. More than half of all marriages end in divorce.- This stat has been around for a long time but it is important to remember. i never knew how much though until I was twenty-five and my parents got divorced. Event at that age I could not quite grasp what was going on. I was questioning things like, "If my parents did not want to be married does that mean I should never have been born?" Not to mention that the one thing that had been a constant in my life was gone. If I could not deal with this I cannot even begin to imagine how this rocks the world of a teen, especially since they have little control over where they live and are often shuffled back and forth. We need to realize that many of our students are dealing with this issue so that not only they can process through it and feel love but also so that our other students can be aware of what is happening and show that love that is so desperately needed. We also must ensure that our ministries are centered around community since many of our students are no longer receiving that at home, the place where they should be.
2. A recent pew study showed that there was a 15% drop in the number of people in this generation who did not doubt the existence of God. This means that more and more people are questioning God. This may not seem too alarming but it is a little bit more when you realize that no other generation had more than a 5% drop. The reason I share this statistic is because it shows that students of this generation are more and more questioning whether truth exists. They are also wrestling with the meaning and purpose of their life and whether anyone is there for them and if any of this life matters. Hence we see students struggling with self-image, sexual activity, depression, addictions, etc. We also get phrases like, "YOLO (You only live once.)." I know none of this is new but it feels different to me this time. It does not feel like teens just letting off steam and trying to figure things out. Therefore we must have a sense of urgency about making sure every student feels loved and valued, that our students are grounded in their faith, and that they are actively sharing that faith with others. Which brings me to our last statistic.
3. Studies continually show that at our current rate less than 4% of this generation will follow Christ. That numbers makes me lose sleep at night because I believe it could be a reality, and it reminds me of the important role that we play in the lives of students. Even if that number is exaggerated and skewed I figure if only 99% of this generation follows Christ that is not enough. We need to have a sense of urgency about what we do and make sure that we are doing everything in our power to reach students for Christ. We need to equip our students to go out and reach others so that this generation does not become one big statistic. I know that you are and I hope you will continue to do so with more and more of a sense of urgency.
Every kid matters,