I recently heard Josh McDowell speak at my church. I’ve read enough of his books and other materials that there wasn’t a lot he said that was new to me. However, it was still a great event. One of the most important things he talked about was how differently the current generation thinks.
I believe that very few people really understand the extent and impact of this ideological shift. This generation approaches truth in a fundamentally different way than previous generations. As a result, the much of old “tried and true” methods of teaching truth to children simply don’t work anymore.
In previous generations, kids were primarily taught truth through propositional teaching. By “propositional teaching” I mean simply telling kids what is true and the reasons why. It is nearly impossible the current generation to learn through propositional teaching.
I’m not saying that kids today are rebellious or won’t listen. It’s not simply that the culture around them has changed. It’s also not just a “decline” from one generation to the next. It is a fundamental shift in the way the current generation thinks. They do not accept truth as an absolute. Everything gets filtered through this pluralistic worldview.
The implications of this on children’s and youth ministry are huge. You can’t effectively communicate truth to children unless you understand how they process it.
Real ministry to today’s kids must be relational. It isn’t enough to just tell them about the truth. They have to see it lived out within the context of a loving relationship.