When our youth aren’t free to be who they really are, something musthave gone terribly wrong. What makes any of us wear masks? What are we trying to hide? Insecurities, fear of acceptance, low self-esteem? Why do our young people feel the need to hide who they really are from us, the ones who are meant to be leading them through their transition into adulthood, and acceptance of God’s unconditional love?
The words ‘Transparency’, ‘Authenticity’ and ‘Truth’ are words Jesus has been throwing into our mix at youth sessions this year, and on Sunday, we ended up having an open discussion about the things that really matter and affect them as young people today.
It’s not that the bible doesn’t relate to them, It’s just that it’s pointless reading through a bible passage, or running a session that doesn’t connect with the issues our young people face on a daily basis; so this morning in our session, we ended up talking about what it was about the word ‘Threesome’ that triggered an outburst of laughter in the previous week’s session (a word that was used innocently not in the way they had taken it!), exam stress, Brexit and why Tereasa May during her term didn’t just hold another referendum, knife crime, student fraud, drugs, the gang guys at School, and the ‘Creams’ outing planned for later that afternoon!
Over platefuls of waffles, pancakes, cookie dough and ice-cream later that day, it was encouraging to hear them talking about off the shoulder prom dresses, looking at pictures of long, gelled, sequined nails, talking about which guy ‘got girls’, and the KFC chicken they were planning to eat after their dessert. Chicken and ice-cream, Yuck! Finally, they were emerging from their shells.
”God knows every sordid little detail of our young people’s hearts…”
Perhaps the spontaneous sessions on ‘Transparency’ birthed by the inspiration of God within our hearts during our youth meet ups together, were finally beginning to pay off. We need to allow Him, to inspire, guide, and help us mirror authenticity and unbiased acceptance of our young people. It may also be time to adapt our youth sessions to tackle topics that reflect the norms, values and practices that are prevalent in today’s youth culture. God knows our young people and loves them for the people that they are now, not for who they’ll be 10 years from now! He can reach them where they’re at, but for Him to do that; we need to stop waving the banner of the expected ‘ideal Church’ based youth behaviour at them; that just produces robots.
We need them to be authentic. We want their transformation into maturity to be organic and not mechanical. We need to take down the structural barriers that we as the Church have created. I’ve seen too many young people injected with the Jekyll and Hydesyndrome, acting one way at Church, but being totally different when with friends, at School or on their Instagram or social media accounts.
When Jesus spoke to the ‘Woman at the well’ in John Chapter 4, He knewexactly who she was, told her He knew who she was and was able to reach her – “Youare right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true…” (John 4: 17 & 18).
God knows every sordid little detail of our young people’s hearts and what He sees doesn’t faze Him, because He has just the right key to unlock each of their hearts.