As I sit here, I have just finished reading something one of my former student’s wrote concerning the point he is at in life. What is more interesting is other students who wrote back to him all agreed – all of them. I sit here as though a weight has been placed on my chest. I sit here with a lump in my throat. Here is part of what he wrote:
“Every day of my existence everything around me feels sullied by the mere fact that I’ve been there and I’ve done that. I get no enjoyment out of thrill rides, video games of any form have become tasteless because at this point everything is just a copy off one another…
Don’t get me wrong… I love being alive, I love everyone around me… Everything just becomes old fast though, yet I’ve only been alive 18 years.”
My heart is torn as I read this, but salt is poured on the open wound as I read the advice he is given. Some say to pick up an instrument or add something else in order to get over his boredom. Others agree and say they have found they must be constantly occupied in order to ignore the boredom they face.
These youth have not been taught that life is an adventure. Chesterton was right – we have rid ourselves of all imagination, of all fantasy, we have forgotten the ethics of “Elfland.” We have forgotten the fairy tales. These youth have been raised in a materialistic culture. They have been told they are a machine, that there is no evidence for a soul, and that everything has a biological cause. They have been taught this philosophical materialism. More damaging, however, is they have been taught popular materialism – their only worth is found in what they own.
They have no real hope. They speak of clinging onto the little things in life in order to avoid the boredom (despair) of life. Here are 16-18 year olds asking the big questions. These young people desire answers and desperately want to listen, but we sit here and offer them pizza parties and watered-down videos. We offer them games and upbeat music. Though these things are wrong, they are not the answers these youth are looking for.
Where are the Christians to teach the deep truths to those that ask? Where are the pastors to speak the difficult to understand truth about life? We do not teach difficult things because difficult things can’t be explained in thirty minutes. We have bought into this lie that youth have an attention span of twenty minutes or less, so we keep the lesson plan lower than that. Anyone who teaches this has never spoken with a youth.
When a youth asks a question or hears about something he cares about, he will listen for hours. He will forget about time – seconds, minutes, hours, none of it will relate to him because he won’t care. His questions are being answered. He is learning about something that he cares about.
I beg of the Christians reading this to please start encouraging your youth ministers to engage in deep studies. If your youth minister isn’t capable of doing this, then please find one that is. Fine one that has a heart for these youth. Find one that will pick them up at a party at 2am and be a father to them when needed. Find one that knows how to connect with them. But also find one that knows how to challenge them.
Questions are being asked, but no answers are being given. This is the death knell of American Christianity; if we cannot rise up today, we will not see tomorrow.