This guest post was written by our High School Associate Director, Aaron Harder. For more information about our middle school or high school ministries and when they meet, check out QUEST and The Crossing.
Perhaps you are wondering what is happening to today’s youth, what causes millennial’s and Generation Z to feel so entitled. Why do these generations seem to be leaving the church at faster and faster rates? If you’ve wondered these things, maybe you should ask what your role is in transforming those realities. I’m beginning to believe the problem is not with them, but with who is—or rather, is not—teaching them.
I’ve noticed the most peculiar phenomenon about today’s youth: most of them link godliness and being Christ-like to working in a church or being a pastor. It’s as if they see a career in ministry as the final stop on the train of Christian maturity. They don’t know what it looks like to be a Christian in other workplaces.
It’s not that our pastors and church staff employees cannot be great examples for the next generation—they are–but our students often fail to equate working as a doctor, lawyer, accountant, financial advisor, or school teacher as a godly calling. To them, the ultimate way to pursue God is to work in a church.
Often, some of our students believe they’re called to vocational ministry because they don’t often understand what it looks like to be godly in other vocations. It’s difficult to see them stuck in this dichotomy—between a calling to Christian ministry and engaging one’s faith at work and pursuing some other vocation that doesn’t seem to connect to their faith.
It may be obvious, but it seems necessary to say that our God doesn’t call everyone to be a pastor or worship leader; He is too creative to only limit Christians to one field or industry and he wants us all to actively engage our faith and the world, no matter what career field we pursue. Every week at youth group, I get to see the different gifts and talents God displays in the lives of our students as I talk with students about their favorite classes, sports, art projects, and choir concerts. God calls His children to display His glory in every aspect of life, and that happens in every area of work—not solely in vocational ministry.
How do we remind our students of this truth? As a church, we cannot make the mistake of believing that mentoring youth is only the job of church employees. There is an important place for pastors and church workers to disciple our youth and there is also a great need for our youth to be mentored by Christian mortgage bankers, IT men and women, and school teachers, too.
Godly men and women who work in the marketplace of the world must help us—the pastors and church workers of the world—show today’s youth that Christians work outside of the church, too. We want our students to believe that serving and worshiping God occurs at all times throughout the day and in every aspect of life, not just what happens inside church doors. This next generation needs to see how godliness can be displayed at a hospital, business meeting, courtroom, and classroom. We don’t need more seminary degrees (though they are helpful), we just need more people to be willing to point the next generation towards Jesus in every area of their lives and rely on His power in their life to transform lives. Period.