It's a new year and the church today faces a generation shifting from the conventional ways of Christianity and exploring more options to live out their faith.
International youth ministry Dare 2 Share has provided a spiritual pulse of today's teens, forecasting the direction Christian teens will head this new year and the challenges they will most likely face. The following list the ministry compiled reflects today’s teens' desires for a cause to rally around, their search for meaning, purpose and authenticity, and their adaptability in responding to the opportunities and constraints facing this generation.
1. “Go Green” will become the rallying cry for this generation
Today’s teens are looking for a cause to believe in and many will be finding their cause in the Green Revolution. As the Civil Rights Movement and Vietnam War became rallying cries for the younger generation in decades past, this generation of teens is stepping up to embrace the “Go Green” Movement. Just as the issue of global warming has begun to enter the social awareness of the mainstream culture, teens are flocking to the Green Revolution. Teens will increasingly channel their passion and idealism toward environmental causes, and their impact will begin to be felt in everything from vegetarian lifestyle choices to influencing their parents to “Live Green” and buy a hybrid.
2. There will be a rising cynicism toward organized religion among teens
While the Millennials do not necessarily harbor negative feelings toward Jesus, they are increasingly disconnecting from the traditional institutions of organized religion. Emancipating themselves from the institutions of their parents, Christian teens will increasingly reject the established, structured churches of their parents’ generation to create newer, more unstructured approaches to living out the spiritual dimension of their lives, exploring options ranging from internet message board communities of faith to gathering with their friends over lattes at their local Starbucks to talk about spiritual things. As evangelistic atheism becomes more prevalent, as evidenced by the number of atheist-authored books recently appearing on the bestsellers list, it will find increasingly fertile ground among teens disillusioned by organized religion.
3. “Starbucks Spirituality” will become more prevalent in the media
The recent rise of the movie sub-genre known as ‘Christian,’ as evidenced by the Christian film label Fox Faith, will increasingly segment movies with a Christian theme or worldview away from the mainstream media into a ‘Christian entertainment ghetto.’ Hollywood will snub mass marketing of movies which strongly depict a Christian worldview, relegating them to a smaller niche market. The ghettoizing of the Christian worldview away from mainstream media will diminish and further distort secular perceptions of Christian beliefs, values and lifestyles. As a result, a “Starbucks Spirituality” will begin to dominate the marketplace of ideas, with individuals picking and choosing religious worldviews that are customized and ‘made to order.’ For example, “Starbucks Spirituality” can be characterized as taking an aspect of Wiccan, adding in a particular tenet from Buddhism and blending it with a few core beliefs of Christianity. This phenomenon will result in broader acceptance of uniquely customized, non-traditional worldviews among teens, because they are heavily influenced by the entertainment industry’s depiction of reality. Teen’s experiences with communal intelligence and ‘Wiki-reality’ will further reinforce the Millennial’s perception that all truth is relative.
4. Teens will utilize technology in sharing their faith
The use of technology and social networks by Christian teens when sharing their faith will accelerate in 2008. MySpace, Facebook, and YouTube provide extensive exposure for creatively using technology to talk with others about spiritual issues. Blogs and text messaging lend further spontaneous opportunities for teens to communicate the importance of their faith in the midst of their daily lives, whether they are communicating to one friend or an entire network of social relationships.
5. Teens will have a higher economic awareness
Economic realities in 2008 will raise teen’s awareness of economic issues due to the increasing economic stratification of society. Climbing food and energy prices, coupled with the ripple effect of the housing market foreclosure crisis will force parents on the lower end of the economic spectrum to say “no” even more frequently to their teen’s financial requests. Conversely, parents on the high end of the economic spectrum will be unaffected by these economic realities and will continue to spring for high-budget item requests like new cars, next-edition iPhones or the Spring Break trip. As a result, teen cliques will become even more aligned based on the economic standing of their parents.
Founded in 1991, Dare 2 Share Ministries International is a non-profit organization that trains tens of thousands of teenagers every year to know, live and share their faith.