- Dale Puckett, Director of Operations
Every generation has stereotypes, good or bad, including my own Generation X. However, I feel we have to be very careful with labels the Church places on youth today. When we buy into these stereotypes we begin to treat a population of people differently and begin to alienate and/or marginalize them.
Often times, the world desires to use young people for their own personal gain. They seek to exploit, exclude, or entertain them, in hopes young people will generate more power, political gain, or wealth...sometimes all three. It's a strategy to dominate the world.
If the church isn't careful, we can fall right in line with these thoughts. The church may not think its exploiting or excluding youth, but when we treat them as if they cannot contribute to the Body, then we are doing just that. And when they have the "freedom" to walk away, they will. And unfortunately, statistics are showing this to be a reality.
The area of entertaining young people in the church might be more of a touchy subject and difficult to talk about. However, the church is not in a place to battle against the entertainment industry. Financially it's not a reality and honestly, we shouldn't turn Jesus into something young people should be entertained by. In John 6 the crowds left Jesus when He taught some very hard things. In fact Jesus asked the Twelve, "Do you want to go away as well?" Their response, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."
So where do we land? I believe (as well as YouthHOPE and its partners) youth should be EMPOWERED. Empowerment is about positioning young people to be able to lead well, to make an impact on their culture, and to fulfill God's plan for their lives. When the Church empowers young people it strengthens the body of Christ.