The State of the [TEEN] Union
State of Youth Culture
I am a youth pastor, and I have the distinct privilege of hanging out with teens all the time. Some of you may not view that as a "privilege" per se, but I think it is. To me, teens are the single most important sub-culture in our society for a number of reasons. I hope to lay a foundation for our role as adults to not only befriend this group of our society, but to lead them into a bright future.
Bright future... Hmm, now that will be a challenge. Why do I believe that youth are the most important sub-culture to reach for Jesus? For the following reasons:
- Ages 11-21 are in the stage of preparation for life: career, family, politics, church, society.
- Ages 11-21 have the most free time of anyone in our society.
- Ages 11-21 have the most discretionary spending power.
- Ages 11-21 set trends for popularity in their own generation and older generations (for example the large number of "old people" on Facebook now compared to just 5 years ago), in this nation and around the world.
To illustrate this point, the 2012 Spring Youth Culture Report states, "Youth culture in the United States is one of the most important demographics shaping the landscape of the global future not only because of their vast spending power, but because they tend to lead as a primary source of global inspiration for many other youth markets."
The following statistics demonstrate the dire RESULT of teens without Jesus over the course of at least two generations:
- 1 out of 2 marriages don’t survive.
- 1/3 of children live in a single parent home.
- Parents spend 40% less time with their kids today than they did 20 years ago.
- 1 out of 5 teens hasn’t had a chat with their parents that lasted more than 10 minutes in the last month.
- “Traditional” (ie. Mom, Dad, 2.5 kids) families have dropped to below 25% of all families.
- Teens invest about 5 hours per day watching TV.
- Teens listen to an average of more than 40 hours of music per week. Check out the Billboard top 100 to see the kind of music teens are listening to.
- 50% of all teens are sexually active.
- 8 in 10 girls and 6 in 10 boys wish they had waited until they were older before having sex.
- Due to sexual activity 15.3 million people contract an STD annually and 2/3 of those are teenagers.
- Experts estimate that 90% of all rapes are never reported.
- Junior and Senior High School students consume $1.1 billion on beer.
- An estimated 1.8 million Americans 12 and older are current users of cocaine.
- 113 million youth ages 12-17 reported currently drinking alcohol, more than just a few sips.
- 33 million teens ages 12-17 admit to being binge drinkers (meaning 5 or more drinks in one occasion)
- 12 million teenagers ages 12-17 were heavy drinkers or otherwise classified as alcoholics.
- 40% of teenage girls get pregnant at least once before they reach the age of twenty.
- The United States has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy among 1st world nations.
- 86% of births from mothers ages 15-19 were to unmarried teens.
Studies reveal that 85% of the people who make a commitment to Jesus Christ make the decision by the age of 18, or they never will.
WHO IS INFLUENCING THEM?
We have a generation of teens who have more influence and spending power than at any other time in history, and the statistics about their generation are very telling. They do not have the generation ahead of them leading them, teaching them HOW to live WELL. Oh, teens have plenty of examples; they are simply not healthy examples.
Case in point:
"Jennifer Lopez and the adorable Marc Anthony called it quits after 7 years, even with two beautiful twins. Mel Gibson lost half of his fortune to his ex-wife after 31 years together! Katy Perry and Russell Brand, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, Heidi Klum and Seal. The list goes on and on. Though the national divorce rate is “50%”, this applies to the normal everyday US citizen who doesn’t star in blockbuster movies or have a #1 song on Billboard’s hot 100. Do you know what the average celebrity divorce rate is? 80%. That means roughly only 2 out of 10 Hollywood marriages survive. If that sounds bad to you, imagine how that affects a teen. It leaves us with little hope of ever having a successful marriage." -Radical Parenting
Parents are spending less time with their kids, kids are spending more time with TV, social media, and music... the results are staggering. What do we need to do to turn this around?
John 1:14 says, "And the Word became flesh and DWELT among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of Grace and Truth." One of the key differences in Christianity is that our religions foundation is not found in a Holy Book, but a Holy Person, Jesus, God's only son. Jesus became flesh and he made his dwelling place here. He TAUGHT us HOW to live. The Bible is the revelation of the life of Jesus. The power of the Christian life is in the God whom we know, love and serve.
The United States of America is under siege by a force far more powerful than you, we are in a battle for the soul of this nation and, FYI, we are losing. The next generation has ALREADY made a decision for the things of the world and there is only one way to lead them... It isn't more money. It isn't more toys. It is your most valuable asset: TIME. As you grow in your walk with God, you MUST invest time in the next generation teaching them (specifically YOUR kids) how to walk this life with Jesus. You must take your role seriously as a leader in the Kingdom and you must LEAD your kids, and your kids' friends closer to Jesus, the Kingdom of God, and righteousness. You must be willing to fail at some things in order to be successful in the more important things. You must be willing to lay down your own pride, selfishness, and entertainment to lead our kids into a successful future. This applies to youth pastors as much as it does to parents!
This generation is desperate. Are you?
My name is Nathan Cornett and I live in San Diego, CA. I have lived here all my life and I absolutely love it! San Diego has the perfect (in my opinion) blend of city and rural life with nearly "perfect" weather most of the year. For example, most thanksgiving dinners I am in a pair of board shorts and returning from an afternoon of great surf. During the dead of winter I can be wearing shorts, flip flops and a t-shirt, and barely catch a chill. I love it.
I have been in ministry since I was 18, and felt called to youth ministry when I was 15 years old at a winter camp called Forest Home here in SoCal. My friends made fun of me, but I just always knew that God was calling me into youth ministry, and I am pursuing that call with everything in me.
My heart’s desire is to unite with pastors nationwide and even worldwide, to advance the Kingdom of God and encourage the Church. I believe in a radical Christianity in which every believer is called by God for his purposes, not just the pastor. I believe that God has a unique calling and purpose for every person and I want to see people live out of the calling God has for them.
I have been married for 2 years and I love my wife very much! No kids yet, but stay tuned...
I am looking forward to working with pastors all over the country; I am very open, so feel free to contact me anytime.