Okay. I admit it. I have reached that frightening no man's land called
middle age ... or as my kids call it, "the over-the-hill gang."
My generation was raised and nurtured on a healthy dose of Saturday mornings
filled with Roy Rogers, The Lone Ranger, My Friend Flicka, Fury and
Sky King. Family life was depicted on television shows such as
Donna Reed, Father Knows Best and Ozzie and Harriet. I Love Lucy,
Danny Thomas and Dick Van Dyke brought humorous insights to
family life, but still centered around healthy, intact family life.
And now I've reached the age of 48--only two years from what my own kids
tell me is ancient. But in spite of these facts, I find one thing consistent in
my life. I still love kids. I believe there is a great opportunity for adults
to share Christ across generational lines with young people.
I'll share a few insights I've found helpful in communicating Christ to what
my friend Tom Rainer calls the Bridger generation (those 72 million born
between 1977 and 1994). Some of these may be your own children, grandchildren,
young people at church and neighborhood kids.
First, understand that the Bridger generation is open and interested in
spiritual things. Note that I did not say strictly "Christian things." The
Bridger generation has been raised in a culture that believes in almost any
expression of a Supreme Being or higher power. In addition, they have learned
by watching the folks around them to resist any claims of one faith system as
being the "only way." Yet they are open spiritually.
Second, understand the culture in which they are maturing. Our society is
postmodern with these beliefs:
No ultimate purpose in life.
No single, omnipotent and supreme deity who guides life.
There is little value in focusing on and preparing for the future, so live
the moment to its fullest.
The biblically illiterate culture in which your kids are growing up finds
more than 81 percent of people interviewed (George Barna) saying that the most
well-known verse in the Bible is, "God helps those who help themselves!" The
last time I checked, Aesop had no books in the Bible. In addition, Bridgers
hear diversity and tolerance promoted not as a political ideology, but as a
maxim of reality that allows no one to stand on absolute claims.
Third, be aware that the number-one reality for which kids are looking is to
know they are loved. Fewer than half of the Bridgers spend their childhood with
both biological parents. They live in the generation with the most abortions in
the history of the world. As you pray about sharing Christ with a young person,
make sure your driving motivation is love for kids, for if it's not there, and
your approach is based on duty alone, they will smell it a mile away.
Your love for kids will also keep you from talking down to them. One thing
kids hate is adults coming across like they are experts. They want to be
treated as intelligent, thinking people.
The Bridger generation is also called the Audio-Visual Age. Kids are into
movies, television, computers and music. Be alert to what they are watching and
listening. Adults should be familiar with performing artists such as
Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Backstreet Boys, Brooks and Dunn, the
Dixie Chicks, Garth Brooks and Shania Twain. If you are talking to a young
person who likes Garth Brooks, refer to his hit song Brand New Man and
ask what he or she thinks it takes to create a brand new man. Within moments
you can be exploring the gospel together.
You should also be aware of what teenagers are watching. Hit shows are
Dawson's Creek, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Friends, Seventh Heaven and
Felicity. I regularly watch a couple of these shows to have them in my
mind as launching pads for sharing Christ when I'm with kids-even if the
example I use from the program is taken from the perspective of people making
wrong decisions. Kids need to know that you care enough to be aware of what's
important to them.
Fourth, expect God to do significant things when He opens the opportunity
for you to share with a young person. After all, He's got a pretty good track
record of doing just that--Joseph, Samuel, David, Jeremiah, the boy with the
fishes and the loaves. What a wonderful opportunity we have to impact the next
millennium by prayerfully stepping out on mission and sharing Christ across
Bob Reccord is president of the North American Mission Board,
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC