Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Youth of a Nation

As part of what I consider “youth ministry research”, I just read an interesting article on the “Millennial” generation, looking at the 13-20 year old demographic in America. These youth are growing up in an extremely fast-paced, technologically based society, and researchers are finding that this environment is actually nurturing them to think and respond differently than previous generations.

With countless products, services, and rapid technological developments aimed directly at them, this generation expects interactivity and to have multiple choices at their fingertips. Generational differences are not limited to expectations, but are actually reflected in personality.

Millennials were found to differ significantly from Gen X medical students in 10 of 16 traits on a standard personality test. Millennials scored higher on warmth, abstract reasoning, emotional stability, rule-consciousness, social boldness, sensitivity, apprehension, openness to change and perfectionism. Gen X'ers scored higher on self-reliance.

It also seems there is a cultural rebound from the intensely career-driven, one-size-fits-all goal-focused lifestyle of the Gen X'ers.

"They [millennials] have no need to conform to a generational norm. They're very independent in their consumer habits." … "The trend is that there isn't a trend. This generation is all about choice -- being able to find something and make it your own."

With a world that is constantly shifting around them, how will this millennial generation respond to a God who never changes? Will they regard Him as stiff, archaic and irrelevant, or, will they choose to hold onto Him as a rock in the midst of the storm raging around them? My heart believes the latter, that today’s youth are eager to find solid truth, a consistency they can depend on, even as the world flies by.

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