Children are being robbed of their childhood; they are growing up too fast. Unfortunately, they are growing up without God. Believe it or not, many have never even heard the gospel in America. Really? In America? I’ve been reading Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World by James Emery White. Over the next few weeks I will continue to share what I learn. It is truly eye opening and scary; but helps in paving a path for the next generation to know their God.
God’s people, the Israelites, received blessing after blessing from God yet they repeatedly turned towards false gods. Have you taken a good look at our culture today? How about just the church? Do we look like God’s people? Are parents sharing God with their children daily and making God a priority in their families? If not, how can we expect things to change?
Let me share some of the things I have recently learned about Generation Z, our children today:
- 12 and 13 year old girls are some of the highest paid models in America and are presented as sexually enticing adults. Our girls see this and want to be like this.
- Even the children on television act like adults now in the way they speak, dress, attitudes, desires… And this is who are kids are emulating. Tracy Vaillancourt who specializes in children’s mental health at the University of Ottoway said, “Kids mirror the larger culture, from reality TV to materialism.” Kids want to be who they see. Take a good look at who and what your kids see today. Is this someone God would be pleased with?
- Per proven research, teens who watch movies or listen to music glamorizing drinking, drug use or violence tend to engage in those behaviors themselves. And sexual behaviors? The more teens are exposed to sexual content in movies, the earlier they start having sex and the likelier they are to have casual, unprotected sex. We don’t want to believe it, but it has been proven.
- Then there is pornography. Wow! These statistics are incredibly disturbing.
- Nearly three-quarters of 15-18 year old’s have sexted
- 50% have sent naked or semi-naked photos/videos of themselves
- 84% have received sexually explicit messages by phone or email
- 70% of teens surveyed were sexually active with nearly three-quarters not regretting it
“It’s a social, online world our kids live in and sending these images and messages is part of the sexual relationship so it’s really a new form of courtship.”-Anne Mitchell. We cannot protect our kids from everything, but we can give them a strong foundation in Christ so they are prepared to make the tough decision to go against the grain when these situations present themselves. We have a responsibility to teach our children, to train them up in the way of the Lord.
This brings me to another alarming statistic in the growing number of parents to Generation Z who classify themselves as nones: the spiritual, but not religious. Perhaps this is why many children today have never heard the gospel. “The degree of spiritual illiteracy is simply stunning.”
I do not have all the answers, but I believe God can turn things around. He proved this throughout scripture. He worked through His people. Do you want to be one of those people? I know I do! I will begin opening the doors to my online learning opportunities for children next week, fun hands-on bible for kids. Grandparents can even get links to send to their grandchildren. It starts with a tiny seed. This is not the final answer, but it is as start. I pray that we can get Christ into all homes with children and open their eyes to see a loving God who wants amazing things for them.
If you are interesting in reading more about from Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World by James Emery White, just click on the link.
How to teach God’s word to kids… Is there one way that is better than another to teach God’s word? Especially when it comes to kids, how should I teach them? What is most effective?
- Popular Old Testament Stories
- Popular New Testament Stories
- Mixed Old and New Testament
- Current Events
The list goes on and on. To be honest, as long as you are teaching kids the truth, then you are doing good. And if you are teaching them in a manner they receive it well and retain that information, you are doing great! Me personally, I love all these ideas and believe they all have a place; however, my preference is chronological.
Why chronological? By teaching from beginning to end, we show kids that God has always had a plan and a purpose for us. Start with the beginning. He created a world that we could flourish in. God knew man would mess up so God even had a plan for that. Everything from the beginning leads to the cross and that leads to us! I believe this will help kids better understand God.
How do you read a book? Do you start in the middle? Okay. There are some of you that read the end to make sure they like it before reading the whole story. There may be something to that. How about a movie? Do you fast forward to the end before watching the entire movie? Do you go back and forth throughout the movie? Not typically. We want to see the story, the build up and the resolutions and the big end. We get to the know the characters as we go and often develop a love or hatred toward them too. This is how I like to teach kids.
Growing up I was taught popular stories from the Old Testament and then spent the majority of time learning from the New Testament. This was good, after all, I turned out pretty well I think. But I missed so much. I thought the God of the old was mean and harsh while the God of the new was gracious and loving. It was not until I grew up and went back to the old to see that God has been the same since the beginning, just like the bible says. He was loving and merciful even in the Old Testament. Just look at how many chances the Israelite’s got even though they kept going back to idols over and over again.
Learning the bible as one big story, God’s story for us, helps us to really learn who God is. From here, we develop a love for God and the other people in the bible, just like kids do with Batman or the newest cartoon heroes. Only when it’s the bible, it’s amazing! Kids wanting to be like Joseph or Daniel, an angel or Jesus… Wow! This makes them want to share their God with others.
As you go from story to story in the bible, there are topical lessons to learn all the way through! Teaching kids the stories and touching on application prepares them for a life for Christ! When they run into trouble down the road, they will know where to turn for answers.
Yes, I prefer teaching chronologically, but I do move away from this at times to promote fun series, mainly for outreach. For instance, I just took the month of October to teach “Scary Bible Stories to Tell in the Dark.” At Christmas, I will have something in honor of the season… more on that to come later. I usually promote a series for my mid-week program and keep my chronological study on Sunday’s since it is a three-year program. Bottom line, do what works for you and your kids. What is important is that they are learning about God, growing in their love for Him and developing a drive to share Him. Lay a solid foundation in scripture so they know where to turn when they need God most. Our goal is to Raise Kids for Christ!
Need some ideas? Take a look at my chronological curriculum. It’ free so feel free to use if it works for you. This is the first quarter. I’ve seen something from The Gospel Project that looks pretty interesting. (I do not receive a commission for this. I also have never used it but think it looks promising.)
Do you have parents reaching out to you for ideas? Are they looking for ways to raise their children with God included regularly? I remember as a young parent, I sure was! I wanted my kids to grow into fine young Christians, but was not quite sure how.
I was recently given a book called, “Around the Word in 60 Seconds,” a tween devotional book. My kids have grown, but man I could have used this! There are 52 weeks of stories about things tween’s deal with in life. Each week you will find a scripture followed by a short story that a tween can relate to. There’s even an action item and prayer. Then, each day of the week there is another verse and a question to think over helping kids think about how God’s word applies to them instead of them feeling like they are not ready for God.
I am providing a link if you are interested, but honestly, there are many options out there. Parents just need to dedicate 10 minutes a day with their kids to talk about God in their lives. Just 10 intentional minutes a day will go a long way. And let’s be honest, in this culture, we need to arm our children with the Armor of God more than ever before.
Other articles you may enjoy:
Reaching Gen Z
Does it Matter?
Why is it that God’s timing seems to be so different from ours? We have such grandiose ideas and if God would just bless them now, then I could do great things for Him. As I pondered this thought, I turned to the scriptures for answers. I must admit I was not thrilled at the answer, but I was comforted.
God loved Abram. He was a good man, but he and his wife could not have children. And we all know that in that culture, this was highly frowned upon. No children, yet God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, the father of many, and promised him he would have so many descendants they could not be counted. They would be as many as the stars, yet God had not even given them a single child to date. Instead of trusting God to keep his promise, they took matters into their own hands. How often do we try to do this too? And problems came from that calamity of errors; however, God worked through it and eventually blessed Abraham and Sarah with a son, Isaac. This led to a long line of descendants making him the father of many. If we stick with God’s plan, things will be simpler, but God is bigger than our faults and can bring about good in spite of ourselves. Just remember, the path may be bumpier.
Later in scripture we read about the Israelites. They disobeyed God so He allowed them to become slaves in Egypt for 400 years. Wow! That’s a long time. But God promised them he would rescue them and eventually, He did. He sent Moses to present the 10 plagues until Pharaoh let God’s people go. They crossed the Red Sea and were free. Of course, they complained. What God provided at that point was not good enough in their opinion. They were impatient. We know the story; God was not finished yet. They suffered some consequences but God gave them beautiful land, land flowing with milk and honey. We need to be patient and trust God’s plan for our lives.
Now let’s take a look at Joseph. He was living the good life! He parents were in love and Joseph was his father’s favorite son. Then one day his jealous brothers sold him into slavery. What an amazing attitude Joseph had though. He trusted God and God took excellent care of him. The Pharaoh trusted him with everything! Then because of someone else’s lie, Joseph ended up in prison. From there, Joseph still appears to have had a good attitude, trusting God. It took years, but God worked him back into a position above all but the Pharaoh. Joseph went through some very troubling times, unfair times. He did not say, “It’s just not fair,” and quit. No, he simply continued to trust God’s plan. We are God’s hands and feet on earth and need to allow God to work through us for His purpose.
I could go on and on with examples of God providing for His people… in His time. I have so many things I want to accomplish for His church; so many children I want to reach with His word. I will continue to pray for speedy results, but I find it comforting knowing that God has a plan and will bless His ministry the way He chooses in His time. I just need to be ready when He calls. I need to be prepared to be His hands and His feet. Remember, the hands and feet are not the brains. Let’s let God do His job and work through us.
If you enjoyed this article, you may enjoy reading “Is Children’s Ministry THAT Important?”
Good Reads! Learn more about this generation:
Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World
Gen Z: The Culture, Beliefs and Motivations Shaping the Next Generation by Barna Group
God has breathed life into all Scripture. It is useful for teaching us what is true. It is useful for correcting our mistakes. It is useful for making our lives whole again. It is useful for training us to do what is right. By using Scripture, the servant of God can be completely prepared to do every good thing. -2 Timothy 3:16
God’s word. What an amazing gift we have. It provides us with comfort when we hurt, direction when lost, encouragement when down, peace when in turmoil, instruction when in need of answers and so much more. By following God’s word we can find joy, peace, contentment… a fulfilling life. Now for the fun part- helping our children to see the value in knowing God’s word and how to find what we are looking for in the scriptures.
As we teach our children what is in the scriptures, we should teach them where they are learning from. For instance, when teaching creation, how we got here, we should teach them that this is all found in the Old Testament book of Genesis. When we are teaching about the life of Christ, we should teach them to search the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. As they grow older, knowing this will help them know where to turn in the bible when they need to. Of course, we have Google! As often as I use Google, I have found that this knowledge is often helpful.
Have you ever noticed people searching through their bibles trying to find the book the teacher has asked the class to turn to? I do not work on a lot of memorization, but I do repeatedly teach the books of the bible to our kindergarten through fifth grades. Not only is this beneficial, but the kids have fun learning (at least the way we teach them) and are proud of their accomplishment when they can say all 66 books! We sing the songs each week. Then our lower grades pull a card, a ball, a paper airplane or banana with a book of the bible listed and tell me if the book is found in the old or new testament. Then they make a basket, soar through a hoop or feed the monkey. Our older kids race to find the books in their bibles. As the kids get good at this, they start to tell me the name of the books that come before and after the one they chose.
Memorizing the books of the bible is not essential to a person’s salvation, but it will help in finding the answers they need when situations arise. Let’s prepare our kids.
How can a young person keep their life pure? By living according to your word. -Psalm 119:9
If you enjoyed this article, you may enjoy reading “Is Memorization Still Important?“
I like living in my bubble. My bubble is nice. It is comfortable. It is happy. Life was good until I read, “Meet Generation Z” by James Emery White at which time my bubble burst. I thought that since I was working with elementary age kids, I should learn more about this generation. These are kids born between 1996 and 2014. Wow! What a wakeup call! I think I’d like to go back into my bubble now. Unfortunately, it does not work that way when serving the Lord.
So what did I learn? Perhaps the most startling fact was that this generation is the first true POST-Christian generation. I supposed I should not be surprised, after all, we cannot talk about God in the work place (unless you work in ministry). We cannot talk about God in schools. Our monuments tied to Christianity are no longer welcome. And then we watched evil sweep in. We cannot talk about God in school but we can teach the science of evolution. We cannot discuss God; however we can talk about accepting the homosexual lifestyle. We cannot talk about God but transgenders are welcomed into elementary schools and encouraging kids to accept this lifestyle. No, I guess I should not be surprised at this latest statistic.
This generation makes up more of the American population than Baby Boomers. This is a large group and only 4 out of 10 attend church services weekly. Today’s generation is very secularized and has little to no knowledge of the gospel. Here’s how White summarized Generation Z, “First, they are lost. They are not simply living in and being shaped by a post-Christian cultural context. They do not even have a memory of the gospel. The degree of spiritual illiteracy is simply stunning… (Second), they are leaderless. Little if any direction is coming from their families, and even less from their attempts to access guidance from the internet. So how can they be reached?”
Reaching children when we have them is one thing, but getting them to us is a whole other dilemma. Then, of course, there is keeping them focused on God as they grow and we know that parents have more influence on this than church leaders. It seems to me that yes, we need to make our children’s ministry attractive; after all, the statistics on how much a child influences decisions in the home these days is truly astonishing! None the less, we must deal with reality. Equally important to an inviting and engaging children’s ministry is a parent’s ministry.
The parents of our Gen Z kids are mainly from Generation X. We need to understand them to know what pulls at their heart string. These parents are more cautious and frugal than generations past, but are known to spend more on their kids. They want good things for their children. Most of our kids homes have two parents working outside the home so kids come home to an empty house after school every day or are enrolled in after school care. Then there’s divorce… much higher divorce rates than years past. So their kids are growing up more independent, but not necessarily learning what they ought to.
Now, we know how important their kids are to them but we also know how pressed for time they are. Parents are short on time and want to spend time with their kids so they put their kids in sports. Baseball, soccer and cheer is fun for everyone, but this means even less time for the church each week. It may appear hopeless, but let’s look closer. Parents want to be good parents. They love their kids. The church needs to teach parents what is happening to children when they are not hearing about God every day. They need to be shown them very real and scary statistics of our children growing up without expressing and showing them that God is the focal point, the priority for the family. Then we need to teach a parent how to do this. And finally, we do not need to overwhelm parents with more programs, but we do need to offer them the tools to raise kids for Christ with the church as their partner.
What tools do they want and need? Here are just a few ideas:
- Scriptural answers for why we believe in God
- Time management tips
- Prayer suggestions
- 5-minute devotional with discussion question
- Share their bible lesson from Sunday and give ways to reinforce at home
- Fun family activities that allow discussion of God
- Discussion starter questions about God for the dinner table, traveling to school, etc.
- Make counseling available. Being a parent is hard and sometimes, we just need extra help.
Remind parents of Deuteronomy 6:5-8: 5 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. 6 And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. 7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. 8 Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Why would God instruct us to talk about God’s commands ALL the time, at every opportunity? Are parents doing this? If parents had been doing this all along, do you think the state of America would be where it is today? Make your children’s AND parent’s ministry a priority.
Interested in reading more about Generation Z?