CHURCH & MINISTRY
The Crucial Year
By MeLissa LeFleur
I recently heard a speaker talk about generational differences. The ladies in my discussion group were all 25 or more years my elder and it was very interesting to see how they approached the discussion questions differently than I did. Some of the ladies fit nicely in their generational stereotype, while others didn't. That's pretty typical, I think.
The one stat that stuck in my mind had nothing to do with my generation or my elder friends' generation. Instead it was about the kids who come after the millennials. Their generational name hasn't stuck yet, but some people call them Generation Z, Plurals, TwoKays (born after 2000), Gen Next, Net Gen, Gen i, @generation, Swipe generation, Screeners...the list goes on and on. This generation is highly connected to each other and the world through media.
Many in this generation are at a crucial time in their development. Dr. Rick and Kathy Hicks explain:
Many psychologists and sociologists would agree that the most influential period of our value-development process is around age 10. What happened to you and what was going on in society when you were 10 years old has shaped your values probably more than you realize...What we experienced in our families, at school, with our friends, through the media, and in every aspect of our lives at age 10 had a greater influence on us than those same factors had at any other time in our lives.Wow. I had no idea that age 10 was the crucial age for developing lifelong values. I began paying attention to the fifth graders in my sphere of influence. What do they enjoy? What do they talk about? What video games are they playing? What movies are they watching? How are they treated by their friends? How are they treating others? How are they being influenced by their world?
I remember when I first started serving in children's ministry. The Children Ministries Director assigned me the fifth grade class. I asked her why she chose that group. She said, "Serve those kids with everything you have. Speak God's truth to them. Come talk to me in February and we might adjust the group a little." I thought the February comment was strange, but I agreed. The school year started well, but something happened around mid-year. Some of the girls changed overnight. They no longer obeyed. They didn't want to participate. They only wanted to gossip and look at the junior high boys! They cared more about the world and less about the Word. When February came around, I met with my supervisor. She wasn't surprised by the turn of events and assured me that it happens every year. I'm guessing she didn't know the stat above, but had noticed the trend through her years of experience. She encouraged me to not give up on them and to keep pouring into their lives. Give them a solid example of how to love God and others. They may not acknowledge your example, but they will remember it.
What sound advice that has been over the years. As I serve in children's ministry, I pay close attention to the fifth graders. They are sponges and are easily influenced by every wave of culture. I want God to overwhelm them with a tsunami of love for Himself and others! If they are going to be influenced by the wave, let's make it the right one!
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)
Image Credit: Scarlatti2004; "5th grade, 1971"; Creative Commons
Tags: Christian-Life | Family-Life | Ministry-Church | Personal-Relationships
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