Who are the real teens of 2010?
The Barna Group recently took a survey of over five hundred random teenagers aged 13-17 to see what’s most important to them. They found that the aspirations of today’s youth vary in areas including college and career, God and global, family and church, and fame. When asked to describe how they see their lives a decade from now, the teens surveyed responded with attention-grabbing answers, giving insight into their faith.
The Teens Respond
The most common goal of teens today is to be an educated professional. Obtaining a college degree is the highest priority on their list. According to Barna, “93 percent of teenagers felt certain they would accomplish this goal by age 25.” Although a well-paying job is a higher priority, teens also desire jobs where they can help make a difference.
Having a close personal relationship with God came next. Interestingly this is a priority before being actively involved in a faith community. The survey showed that “nearly three-quarters of teenagers felt they would have a close, personal relationship with God (72 percent) in the next decade or so,” while only 29 percent definitely see themselves actively involved in a church.
Today’s teens plan to be on the go. They are travelers. About seven out of 10 youths (71 percent) said they will definitely or probably have traveled to other countries by their mid-twenties.
Yet, family life wasn’t as certain. Just 12 percent of teenagers felt sure about “being married” by age 25. According to Barna, “Teenagers are even less likely to entertain traditional goals regarding parenting. Less than half of teenagers (40 percent) felt they may have children by age 25 and only one out of 11 (9 percent) said they would definitely become a parent in their early adult years.”
And finally, one-quarter (26 percent) of teenagers said they expect to be “famous or well known” by age 25.
Empowering Teens for Tomorrow
These responses are a small sample of what is on the minds of today’s youth. As we become conscious of the needs of young people and work to serve them, we can be more effective in pointing them toward the Lord so they can make a positive impact on their generation.
God’s Word speaks directly to us as it relates to youth. We are not to despise them. Rather than scolding them and looking down on their point of view we should admire their courage, learn more about they things they like, and build them up every time they succeed.
I Timothy 4:12 instructs, Let no one despise or think less of you because of your youth, but be an example (pattern) for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity. Amplified Bible.
Rather than judge, we need only love them. Every generation should look back and remember how peculiar they looked and sounded to their parents. We can provide guidance and instruction while drawing teens to Christ rather than inadvertently pushing them away.
God is equipping His youth and empowering them for ministry in their new world. Let’s be determined to find ways to applaud to their achievements, using Titus as a guide:
Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us… For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. (Titus 2:6-8, 11-13, NIV)
As we show them the reality of Christ's love, they will get it. They already understand rejection. Now all they need to know is Jesus who took their rejection so they can become accepted by God. They will get the Gospel and grow steadily in it, just as you and I have.
Real teens are searching for a real Savior. And the Lord Jesus is ready to meet them. Let’s continue to pray that the power of the Holy Spirit will permeate young lives all around the world as only He can do.
~ Jackie O.