Generation Z – Modern Methods of Youth Service, Lecture by V.Rev. Andrei Sommer at the International Conference “Voice of Apostle Andrew the First-Called in Today’s World”
Modern Methods of Youth Service
Lecture by V.Rev. Andrei Sommer at the International Conference
“Voice of Apostle Andrew the First-Called in Today’s World”
November 18-19, 2017
The science of sociology calls today’s youth “Generation Z,” that is, adhering to no denomination, living in a post-Christian era. We see this in America, where 23% consider themselves “former Christians,” and in Great Britain, were 66% of the population consider themselves unattached to any official church, canonical or not.
Who are these members of Generation Z? These are kids born from 1995-2010, that is, those under 25 years of age. They don’t remember a time without personal computers, without the internet. They were born with cell phones, and emails are a formal means of communication, though they prefer instant messaging. They don’t know of a world without instant and convenient access to the web. They go to sleep holding their cell phones and turn them on as soon as they waken. The main form of socializing is through social media: Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. They have a strongly-developed sense of entrepreneurship and independence. They want to change the world, help people, and don’t accept boundaries and limitations. They have a desire to help the poor and needy and to volunteer their time.
Most members of Generation Z believe in the existence of God as before, but being the first post-Christian generation, they don’t believe in the necessity of participating in official divine services in church. They consider themselves spiritual, but not religious. They have no desire to rail against the Church, but they have no idea of the good that Church can bring, moreover of the benefit of the Mysteries the Church offers. These young people fall into the “churchless” category who at best will go to Church only on Pascha. At the same time, we need to ensure that we don’t lose the “churched” youth reared in our parish schools, who graduate with a spiritual compass but not yet prepared for the temptations of this world who are in need of our attention.
Generation Z lives in a world of visual information. The knowledge they need in their lives is obtained from YouTube, Netflix and Hulu. They express words and emotions with images, symbols and “smilies” called emojis. We need to learn the means of communication that youth employs and which they are comfortable with.
But the time has passed when young people can spend entire days sitting in on lectures. One of the newer approaches in youth ministry was developed at the 12thAll-Diaspora Youth Conference held in Paris in 2011. Participating were 150 young delegates from the diaspora plus kids from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.
Workshops were employed. The youth would listen to lectures and then immediately turn to practical work with a specific goal. It is important to take advantage of their energy towards doing good. The youth were divided into 11 groups of 10. Their first goal was to find a common language and resolve the challenges set before them. Each group had to develop a mission project which could serve as a model for their community. Their projects were then submitted to a committee, who then acted as directors and sponsors.
Over 200 youth from 11 different nations participated in the 13th All-Diaspora Youth Conference held on June 27-July 4, 2014, in San Francisco, CA. New ideas and forms of work were expanded greatly at this event.This event included lectures, discussions and workshops which developed social projects. Educational trips and excursions were organized, including a soup kitchen and a nursing home.
The best program of the conference was the “Friends and Family” project, which seeks to improve contacts between volunteers and families that need help; home care for the sick, helping the aged perform daily tasks such as grocery shopping, home repair, and tutoring.
Among those we can help are:
- Single-parent families
- Families with many children
- Low-income families
Who can help?
- Energetic parish-level youth
- Talented youth of today
How can volunteers and those needing help be linked?
- A data base of volunteers and families
- Information from needy families
- Organizing and uniting volunteers
- Connecting volunteers with families
- Set up a dispatching system
- Monthly events to help unite volunteers:
- Joint dinners
- Collections for charitable organizations
- Spiritual discussions
A smart-phone app could bring this project into life. Many other organizations use this method. Volunteers could register and when they have some free time, find those in need, with time, need and place indicated. The app should provide a way of vetting volunteers and the needy. Of course, a sponsoring organization is needed to financially support the development of the app and professional services needed.
Such 21st century methods will attract the younger generation and help them fulfill their desire to help others. Meanwhile, attracting young people sometimes requires not burdensome obligations but the spirit of brotherly love.The desire to help others is instilled by our Creator in each person. Through works of love we can draw others closer.