Sunday evening we had a multi-generational event about the realities of teen life today. The plans have been in the works for months, stemming from an idea one of our youth, who is also a community leader, developed. Adults, youth and the Holy Spirit showed up in the most beautiful ways.
We started with a simple supper. Facilitators led the whole group discussion. Then we split into adults and youth groups for a 30 minute conversation. When we returned to the large group to share. Here are some surprising things I learned:
Youth are choosing to reduce their social media use on their own. Multiple youth I know have deleted social media accounts and/or limited their social media time. They say they are tired of the wasted time and looking through a “cracked lens” of filtered perfection.
Talking about stress is stressful. I’ll admit, I should have done a better job communicating what our event was about. The good news is that I owned my mistake and invited the youth to share how we could do better next time. Fortunately the facilitator we hired to lead the program made it interesting and interactive (and may have earned some credibility by encouraging the parents to lighten up a little).
Youth desire meaningful, authentic, and caring relationships with adults in the church. During the youth led portion of the discussion, this was what they ended with. They want people to ask them about what is going on in their life (but not ask generally, “how’s school?’). They are looking for the people I think of as cairn builders to show them the way. Parents of college kids shared what an impact adults have made in their own children’s lives. All the adults in the room took this to heart. We may not always get it right, but we know deep down in our hearts that following Christ means caring for one another.
During the next few months we will be beginning to update our strategic plan relating to faith formation. This event affirmed that inter generational conversations are an essential part of our church’s DNA.