There is a big disconnect between multiple generations in the body of Christ today. Due to that disconnect, it’s easy to misjudge others. With the differences in age and exposure to technology, there are different worldviews towards what we think is right and wrong.
The challenges of youth today are way much different than the challenges of youth 10 or 20 years ago. Understanding that each generation has unique qualities and unique challenges and understanding their challenges and their potential unlocks the potential of the body of Christ to utilize each generation that exists today to reach the dying world.
As we conducted a survey here in Ethiopia, our heart was to reveal their challenges and recommendations for the current leaders so that leaders, families, and stakeholders will be able to respond to the challenges of the younger generation.
The big disconnect
For years we have been advocating the mobilization and training of church leaders, youth ministries, young professionals, and students to do digital missions. We had succeeded in mobilizing digital missionaries from students, young professionals, and some church leaders. But if you ask me, the response of the church was not satisfactory. They understand the importance of digital ministry, but they are not willing to invest their time, energy, and resources. To them, it’s a cool idea and it’s good that we’re doing it, but they are not excited enough to adopt it.
Even though they understand the importance, we know that they are failing to understand the urgency. We have seen how the church is losing the younger generation because of how technology is bringing challenges like porn addiction. Right now in parts of Africa, most parents have never touched a computer before but have recently started using a touch screen smartphone. As a result, the younger generation has no one to coach them as they grow up with technology! We are failing as parents and as a church to nurture and coach the younger generation and glorify God.
This was the reason behind us doing a survey of the challenges of Christian youth in Ethiopia. We surveyed 1,364 youth from all over Ethiopia and we learned interesting findings to help us understand the challenges the younger generation faces. We hope it will open our eyes so that we respond accordingly.
The top five challenges listed by study participants were peer pressure (55.8%), addiction (31.6%), secularism (28.8%), lack of maturity (23.3%), and immoral sexual behavior (18.4%). If we ignore these challenges and the church sits by and watches instead of disciplining this generation in the digital spaces where they meet, we could lose the generation for good.
Challenging church leaders
One thing I have learned is that there is a big generational gap that exists in the body of Christ. Digital technology can play a big role in bridging that gap and passing the Gospel to the next generation. Recently at a pastoral leadership conference, we challenged 700 church leaders to embrace digital ministry for them to pass the baton to the next generation. Then we gave them a chance to sign up for training to start a digital strategy in their church, asking them to bring their youth leader and one digital-friendly member from their church.
The response was amazing; we will be training 300 church leaders to start a digital ministry in their church! We are envisioning doing this digital training so that we can help the churches build teams to do digital missions. From this result, we are trusting God to see 1,000+ new digital missionaries joining who are going to lead this movement.