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Black Church News in Virginia

Marriner’s Moment: Shaping The Hearts & Minds of Our Youth – Part 1

This month’s theme is Shaping the Hearts and Minds of Our Youth. It’s a very timely theme, not only because children are returning to school, but many parents are sending their children off to college to live on their own for the first time! This is also a time to remember that teaching starts at home.

Sending children to Bible Study and other church-related activities is a good start, but those things should complement the spiritual nurturing that they receive at home under the leadership of godly parents.

Life can be challenging and – as parents – we want to spare or cushion the pain, mistakes, disappointments and difficulties that our offspring are bound to face. While we don’t want to be labeled helicopter or ‘Velcro’ parents, we try to prepare our youth for life experiences as best that we can. However, in our quest to do so, sometimes that old saying ‘what goes around comes around’ frequently comes back to haunt us. In other words, just as we didn’t always heed the advice and counsel of our parents, our children don’t always listen to us. At a certain age, most children start ‘feeling themselves’ and think they know everything. Sometimes we must let them discover or experience things for themselves, even when it means making mistakes.

These days, we hear a lot about millennials – who they are and what they are like. They are roughly 20 to 35 years old and many are now making their own mark in life. However, demographers have started watching another generation of youth. They are coming behind millennials and they have already been tagged as the ‘Centennials’ or ‘Generation Z.’ Centennials were born starting around 1996, making them 5 to 19 years old now. In contrast to millennials, most Centennials have had their eyes open from the beginning. They were born in the aftermath of the New York Twin Towers’ tragedy, global terrorism and the Great Recession of 2008. They number approximately 60 million, outnumbering millennials by one million, according to census data.

Generation Z is technologically savvy and while they take in information quickly, their interest wanes just as fast. Simply put, if we don’t communicate quickly and succinctly to this generation of emoji-users, we lose them. While millennials pioneered Facebook, Generation Z – which is depicted as more cautious, silent and fearful – prefers other social media platforms like SnapChat, Secret or Whisper. As we attempt to understand, embrace and help shape the hearts and minds of our youth, it’s important for us to understand how best to reach them.

”Peace and power.

© Dr. Melvin O. Marriner,
Grove Church
September 2017

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