The Generation Changing The World And What Churches Need To Know

In the February 28th edition of Time magazine, the revolutions of the Middle East are examined with a special look at the roles young people and technology are playing.  The results are fascinating and have ripple effects that all leaders should take note of.

The current events in Tunisia and Egypt, as well as uprisings in Sicily and France in 1848, had the following things in common:

  1. Recession
  2. Rising Food Prices
  3. Out-Of-Date Monarchies – Think of an aging mainline church that refuses to change and shuns the next generation.
  4. Heavy Population Of Young People – In the Middle East, 60% of the population is under 30.
  5. New Information Technologies – Today, it is facebook and twitter.  In 1848 it was the newspaper.

Interestingly, I see those 5 elements strongly at play in North America as well.  That then raises the question – how are young people responding in the Middle East and how are they likely to respond in our churches?

  1. Young people have hopes, dreams, and aspirations.  They will respond negatively when leadership shows little desire or little ability to meet them.
  2. Young people want to have a voice and be treated like citizens.
  3. Young people want job growth, both in the marketplace and in service to their church and community.
  4. Young people aren’t ignorant.  They are aware, informed, and more connected than adults.
  5. As a result of everyone being connected, there is a sense that no one is in control.  Therefore, do not suppress information.
  6. Young people find a tribal leader whose voice rises naturally, not simply from position.  In Tunisia, the voice of the people did not come from government or the Koran, but rather rapper El General.  Don’t expect young people to listen to you simply because you have a title.
  7. Because young people are collectively drawn to the same issues of social justice, freedom, the right to choose leaders, and connectivity through technology, they can cause great change peacefully and without organized leadership.
  8. A survey of youth in nine Arab states showed young people ranked democracy as a higher priority than education, fair wages, or civic infrastructure.  They want to be heard and make changes if necessary.
  9. Young people are extraordinary passionate but lack a clear vision.  They are comfortable figuring it out as they go.
  10. Young people often don’t see or understand their collective power.
  11. When young people see a movement, it inspires them to start their own.  Then they play “can you top this”.
  12. Young people are the ones who see “a new vision”.  Pastors, keep them around you.
  13. Young people thankfully break up long-standing, convenient relationships that slow progress with a new source of strength.
  14. Young Arabs do not feel they need the United States to facilitate change.  Young Americans do not feel they need the traditional church to facilitate change.
  15. Young Egyptians are working “for a better Egypt”.  Young Christians are working “for a better world”.

There are many similarities between Arab and American youth.  I think that is because God has placed a desire for significance and freedom in everyone, regardless of their place of origin. 

Pastors and church leaders, we can learn a lot about the next generation and how to integrate them by watching the Middle East.  How does this make you feel?

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About Brian Dodd on Leadership

I am a church stewardship and leadership consultant for INJOY Stewardship Solutions. This blog combines my personal passions of church, sports, pop culture and family into a single leadership resource. I trust your time on this site will create conversations and add value to your life.

3 Responses to “The Generation Changing The World And What Churches Need To Know”

  1. Great post Brian. As a Pastor I am constantly reminded of the strength of our young people. Our church is a young culture and they continue to lead the way in service and innovation. Our older folks seem more complacent than in years past. It is the young that are pro-active about serving and making a difference. That is a shift in our East Texas culture.

    • Great insights Thomas. As a 45-year old, I am amazed at the energy and passion of today’s young people. I look at them and think they have more potential for positive life change than my generation did at that age. Churches like your’s that are successful are discovering ways to incorporate them into all aspects of ministry. Thank you for your insights.

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