Each generation of teenagers has their own unique struggle when it comes to hearing and understanding the Gospel. My father’s generation struggled to find relevance in the way the Gospel was communicated. My generation wanted to know how faith and science worked together. But how do we reach this new generation?
The times we are living in are not just divided by politics and moral issues, but they are divided by how we get our information. Each generation has a certain environment that they are born into that can help or hurt their ability to understanding the Gospel.
This generation has only known internet news. The place where they get most of their news information is through social media and late night television skits. They don’t read the paper, nor do they watch evening news shows. The 24-hour news cycle has hyped up every little event so often that nothing is really impactful unless it is adopted culturally as well. This happens through memes, YouTube and shows like the Tonight Show or Saturday Night Live.
This is important because it means that their primary source of information is designed for entertainment not education. We can get caught in this information loop that just repeats back what we have already heard.
If you go to YouTube and search for something, it begins to recommend things that fit into the same category. For example, I spent a week watching liberal news sources, and in just a few days, everything that got recommended to me came from that one perspective.
The result of all of this means that we are separated by how we get our information while rarely aware of it. Each side calls the other side biased without acknowledging their own bias. We are not talking to each other; we are just talking at each other. So what does this mean for reaching the next generation? What can we do to help our own kids?
In the movie The Matrix, Keanu Reeves plays a character who is just living a normal life until he discovers that he is actually just apart of a computer program and is not really living the life he thought he was. After this revelation he is given a choice between two pills. One pill will wake him up to the real reality; the other will allow him to return to his boring but safe life. He chooses the red pill because he wants to find out what is actually true. If you want to know what the next generation needs, they need a red pill.
Somehow we have to show them that the world is finely tuned to give them specific information, most of which is counter to Christian beliefs. Unless they realize that there is a cultural war over information going on, they are going to assume that the information they receive is good information.
This goes for both sides, though. The church has decided entertainment is better than education. Many college-age Christians have a very limited idea of what the Bible actually teaches. They know lots of Christian songs but very few teachings of Christ.
My suggestion is that we sit down with our kids and students and show them examples of entertainment pretending to be education. You can try to tell them what to think, but your time is much more fruitful if you help them learn how to think better.
Teach them about philosophy and logical reasoning. These are God-given tools to help us avoid being caught in an information bubble.