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Society has been traveling as fast and as far as possible away from the concept of absolute truth, but it is in the midst of this departure that young people are craving concrete truth.
That’s what Sadie Robertson Huff, 23, said during a recent virtual townhall called “Leading in Chaos.” The 12-hour-long session focused on the many hard issues that Gen Z Christians, ages 18 to 23, are facing in today’s tumultuous world, including discipleship.
Huff, who gained stardom with her family on the show “Duck Dynasty,” is now a speaker and author. She said that church leaders are expecting “too little” from her generation. The Christian Post quoted her as saying,
“I’ve sat in a room with church leaders who I love and adore…. But there are times where I’ve even heard them say things like, ‘Maybe we shouldn’t do a conference at night because that is the night that college kids like to party.’ And I’m like, ‘That’s why we should do a conference that night, because people are going to party if we expect too little.’”
Robertson continued, “Let them [decide] if they’re going to go with the world or if they’re going to go with God, because you’ve got to make that decision.”
She said that young Christians today are not lukewarm. “It’s pretty hot or cold because it’s actually really cool to stand for something these days. It’s cool to 100 percent follow God, and it’s cool to 100 percent stay in the world. It’s really not cool to be in the middle anymore. And it used to be different,” Huff said.
She added, “The world is kind of polarizing; it’s either black or white, and so you do have to choose. I think we do need to say to this generation, ‘Choose,’ and let the people who are going to be on fire, be on fire. I think, in that way, we can reach more of the lost than being confused by who’s actually lost.”
Another participant, Gabrielle Odom, a 19-year-old evangelist, agreed that her generation wants the bedrock foundation of absolute truth. During the townhall, she said:
“I’ve seen a lot of soft doctrines that have broken my heart as it pertains to teaching the next generation. I’m begging for clarity. I think that my generation is spiraling and going out of control because there are too many tensions to fight through and no one’s giving clear absolute truth. And I think the next generation is craving clarity because I think there are churches that are starving us of it.”
She also encouraged older Christians to disciple younger Christians, explaining, “Sometimes, our generation is fearful to ask for a mentor or fearful to ask to be discipled, but we crave it. And so if you are in the older generation…if you came up to us and said, ‘Can I disciple you?’ I know my answer would be yes every time. And I know a whole lot of people who would agree with me who are my age.”
Odom said that there are many other things fighting for the attention of young people. She asked, “Will the church also fight for us? Does the church care enough to bring us into the legacy they are creating? There’s a legacy to be built, and the younger generation is going to take up that baton, and so it matters to equip them.”
Gen Z and the millennial generation have grown up in a rapidly changing culture that is hostile to Christianity. As Huff said, the church’s answer to this has often been to pander to young people, to try to seem cool, trendy, and non-judgmental. Young people do not need the church to say the same thing to them that the world says, affirming all of their desires and behavior. They need the church to challenge them.
So, older church leaders and members, take note and step up: It will be uncomfortable at first, but reach out to young people — not just as a friend, but as a mentor. Pastors who stand for the absolute truth of the Gospel will run off some young people, but they will also draw many to Christ, while pastors who waver will only succeed in driving all of them closer to the world.
With young Christians like Huff and Odom recognizing that true followers of Christ need to be challenged by absolute truth and discipleship and asking for older Christians to step up and respond to that challenge, the future looks a little brighter for the next generation.