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Opportunity 2 // This Generation Longs for Caring Adults in Their Lives.

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Many youth today feel forgotten by the older generation. While the older generation has been caught up in making a good living for their kids and being in front of screens to connect with others, the kids have wondered if anyone really knows them and what is going on in their lives.  

Many teens feel the older generations do not have time for them or are not interested in them.

And yet one of the deepest longings of teenagers today is having a place to belong, a place to be treated like family. Teens tell us they are looking for warmth from the older generations. They use words like “welcoming, accepting, belonging, authentic, hospitable and caring” to describe what they are looking for from older generations.[1] This young generation longs for the care and attention of adults.

Friends, this is great news! The younger generation wants the voice of adults in their lives! They want someone a little further along in the journey of life, who has navigated some of the twists and turns and can help them make sense of their life and the world. They are very open to intergenerational relationships, mentors and friends, that are in a different age bracket then them.

Did you catch it? It’s more than giving them a fist pump on Sunday, it’s taking an interesting and becoming involved in their lives. It’s knowing what activities they are involved in, what subjects they enjoy, and what stresses they have. It’s let your lives become connected – serving together, having meals together, sharing rides together, playing games together…

Words like “welcoming, accepting, belonging, authentic, hospitable and caring” don’t come from a hand-shake on Sunday or a lecture from an adult on how the should smarten up. Such words come from allowing our lives to be interwoven together across generations.

Here are some ideas from churches that are intentionally building friendships across generations:

·       Create intergeneration small groups

·       Do an intergenerational service project or mission trip together

·       Have Seniors come and teach a skill to the youth or young adults

·       Have seniors into the youth/young adult ministry to share their stories of what school, church, the city/town, camp… was like when they were a kid

·       On Sunday, connect the generations during mingling or prayer time

o   E.g. Prayer - Have those older that 30 put a prayer request on a post it note and have those younger than 30 put a prayer request on a post it note, then have the older crowd exchange their post-it with the younger crowd

o   E.g. Mingling – Find someone at least 20 years different in age than you and find out what their favourite toy was/is when they were a kid

·       Have the youth group invite the Senior’s group in with their smart phones and tablets. Then have the youth teach the Senior’s how to use their devices!

 

Our churches and communities will be richly blessed as we build connections across generations.

Make friends with someone in a different age bracket then you!

Remember – our youth long for caring adults in their lives.

Renée Embree // CBAC

@r_embree @cbacyf

[1] From “Growing Young: Six essential strategies to help young people discover and love your church.” By Kara Powell, Jake Mulder, Brad Griffin (2016).

Renée Embree