I sat at Dudes for my regular burger and fry as a group from the local high school rolled in. They weren't any different looking than the other teens who populated the place at lunch hour. From the girls' close cropped hair and mandatory number of pierced body parts, to the boys' baggy pants and familiar swoosh symbol on hats and shoes, they seemed like the perfect representatives of today's youth culture.
They sat in the booth next to me and as they began talking I realized how foolish it was to judge from exterior looks alone. Being so close, I couldn't help hearing their discussion over "religious" issues - of all things. It seemed that their group cared whether or not a woman could preach in church and they debated the point quite vigorously.
Their conversation wandered through several points relevant to teenage Christians (is drinking OK, how about dancing) as well as the ever present gossip of who was dating whom. To my knowledge, none of the debates were resolved but that wasn't the point. I realized that beside the pierced tongues and wild colored hair - religion mattered to them! They had questions and they were looking for answers.
Lunch at Dude's doesn't usually bring me to any type of resolution (except maybe cutting down on greasy food) but this day's experience made me realize that if we don't teach young people, they will teach themselves, or find someone who will. Let's not let their style put us off - they are searching and we need to help them find the truth.
- In your opinion, what are the three biggest differences between teens today and when you were a teen?
- Who exerts the greatest influence over young people? Why?
- How do you communicate to a teen who doesn't want to hear or talk to their parents?
- Should parents force teens to participate in worship and church youth events? Why or why not?
- Have each person in the group write out a prayer on behalf of a teen.
- Each read prayers for the group.