One day I received word that there was a high-speed chase right outside our OneHope office. The car that was fleeing from the police came off of the road, over the grass, through the fence that borders our property, and crashed into three cars in our parking lot.
It got even worse—I was told that the car’s trunk was filled with shotguns. We have a school in our building. Everyone was understandably scared and concerned that something like this could so easily happen.
I began asking questions about the incident as I tried to gather as many details as possible. Slowly, the true story began to fall together.
What actually happened was that an 80-year-old man had a seizure while driving and lost control of his car. It wasn’t shotguns in his trunk, but his walker.
The actual story did not correspond with reality. The sensational story I first heard wasn’t true, and such is the world that we live in today. It’s as if everyone is playing telephone, the game where one person whispers a word into someone else’s ear and by the time it gets to the end of the row it’s a completely different word. That’s the internet on steroids when it comes to how communication is happening in this digital age; someone posts an opinion and somewhere down the line of countless likes, shares, and platforms it metamorphosizes into “fact.”
When we think about the stories that we hear about younger generations, either in the media or even in our own circles, many of them are very sensational. Oftentimes, they’re dangerous tales portraying immorality and hopelessness. Stories that make it seem like these young people are unredeemable.
One must not settle for the stories they are told but ask questions and dig deeper to find reality. This is what we did at OneHope through our Global Youth Culture study, which was created to ask those questions and discover what the next generation is actually like on a global level. Through it, we found that the next generation is striving for a sense of morality, yearning for hope, and ready to be redeemed.
In order for not only our churches, but for us parents to be successful in reaching the next generation spiritually, socially, and culturally, we must understand them. We have to put in the work to know what they believe, what they really think about various topics, and what obstacles they face in their surrounding culture.
Our Global Youth Culture study is a great free resource that you can use, but don’t stop there. Seeking out the young people in your life and being an intentional student of their ever-evolving culture and journey is the best way to help guide them through it and closer to Jesus.
Maybe you’re a grandparent, a parent, a pastor, or simply someone who wants to affect change in the lives of the next generation. What questions are you asking today that will guide your actions in reaching the young people in your community tomorrow?