The fast pace of life has actually slowed us down…
I was always in a hurry. I blew through college as fast as I could. I couldn’t wait to get out of seminary.
I went to school year round. I piled up the credits and graduated in 2 ½ years. I couldn’t wait to get out into real life.
Then, I found out real life is overrated.
Now, we live in a culture that wants our children to grow up fast. They have to choose a life calling as children so we can get the best coaches and teachers. They have to learn to multitask in elementary school in order to juggle all of the demands on their lives. The internet has given our children access to a world of information. And while our children are much smarter, I’m not sure they’re wiser.
At Kairos, we’ve been dealing with a new phenomenon sociologists are now calling “the emerging adult.” In past generations, young adults would graduate from college, get married and begin their careers. That’s not the case anymore. Young adults will graduate college and—well, this is where it gets tricky.
- Some will move home and try to figure things out.
- Some will travel. They will take short term assignments working overseas.
- Some will try to decide what graduate school to attend.
- Most do not date in the traditional way. They tend to run in mixed groups or “tribes.”
There are a lot of reasons for this. Here are a few:
- As the life cycle has lengthened, so has each aspect of the life cycle. In short, young adults are “teen-agers” until they’re 30.
- The economy means fewer jobs are actually available.
- Parents are a lot more “protective” than in previous generations.
- The information age has made it difficult for young adults to discern truth from all of the chatter.
- Political correctness has taught them no one is wrong, which of course means, no one is right.
There is a lot more to this new reality but there are a lot of implications for us—young adults, parents and church leaders.
First, recognize the new reality. No lectures will change this. Don’t fight it. Work with it.
Second: adjust expectations. Things are different than when we grew up. Deal with it.
Third: Young adults need mentors. Senior adults must “circle back” and create new relationships. Young adults need life coaches.
Fourth: The church must recreate the family unit through inter-generational small groups. Evangelism, discipleship, and pastoral care will all be done best in these small groups.
I understand this is a lot to think through and digest. I know it’s a lot of work, but I can also tell you this from working with these emerging adults over the past 8 years. . . you won’t find anything that’s this much fun, challenging, heart- breaking and rewarding all at the same time. This is where the future of the church already is.