8 Changes in Young People I’ve Seen Over 25 years

I’m in my 26th year of seminary teaching, so I’ve been working with young people for many years. Over the years, my sense is that this generation has changed. Here are some changes I’ve seen:

1. They show a stronger desire to be part of a multigenerational church. They genuinely want to hang out with older people and learn from them. They don’t see older believers as old-fashioned; they see them as wise.

2. They want mentors to help them walk with Christ and lead their families. Requests for a mentor are some of the most common requests I hear among young people today. They know they need guidance in life.

3. Yet, they are less relational in a face-to-face way. That, I think, is because their relationships are based on texts, emails, and instant messages. They carry on conversations without spoken words and without anyone else in the room. 

4. They are more open to attending churches with a traditional worship style. They like a return to yesterday, a “retro” experience in worship as long as it’s done well. They even like hymns—if they are theologically strong and well sung.

5. They are more open to serving with churches in the Bible Belt. That’s a significant change from students years ago who had no interest in returning to the lifeless churches of their hometown. Now, they see the same places as a mission field. 

6. They’re more willing to ask their questions, even if those questions suggest doubt or wondering. They live in a culture that questions almost everything Christian. They want to know why we believe what we do and do what we do—including why we trust the Bible is God’s Word. “We’ve just always believed that way” doesn’t work for them.

7. They’re less informed about what’s happening around the world. That’s odd, since they have almost immediate access to global news. They simply don’t share the burden to be aware of the world beyond their own. That’s problematic, in my opinion, because it leaves them uninformed.

8. They prioritize time with genuine, life-on-life small groups. The small group is their primary connection to their church, and they really do share life with others in the group. There, they find friendships, accountability, service opportunities, and prayer support.

So, what does this evaluation say to leaders of a church? We need to invest in this generation, model genuine faith, answer their questions, and help shape them for God’s glory.

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