Media Addiction and Young Adults – An article from the Washington Post

I read this article this past week, and I wanted to share it to my readers.  Should technology be treated as other addictions?  I do believe that it is a topic worthy of discussion.  Media and technology is definitely an escape from reality that is abused by many people.  Enjoy!            -David

It was group discussion time at reSTART, a woodsy rehabilitation center about 30 miles outside Seattle. Four residents sat around the living room and talked about their struggles with addiction, anxiously drumming their fingers on their legs and fidgeting with their shoelaces. One young man described dropping out of college to seek treatment for the crippling problem that brought them all here: compulsive Internet use.

You can read the entire article here!

Here are some interesting tidbits from the article.

  • A recent study by Common Sense Media, a parent advocacy group, found that 59 percent of parents think their teens are addicted to mobile devices. Meanwhile, 50 percent of teenagers feel the same way. The study surveyed nearly 1,300 parents and children this year.
  • In the United States, there is no definition of Internet addiction. It is not recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which sets the official standards for disorders in the United States. A draft definition covering video-game addiction is included in an appendix for further research review, but there is no entry for general tech use.
  • Other countries, however, do officially recognize some forms of Internet addiction as serious conditions. In South Korea, Internet addiction has a formal definition; there, students are diagnosed and sent to government treatment centers.
Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.

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The Millennial Exodus – Abby’s Story

(This is part of a series written by Millennials who have either left or stuck with the church.  If you are a Millennial and would like to submit your work for publication, you will earn $100.  Here is the link.  To read more stories by Millennials search Millennial Exodus.  If you would like to fund our research among emerging adults, click here.)

Here is Abby’s Story

Churches and Christians often get bad reputations. They are called judgmental, close-minded, uninviting, and even hypocritical at times. I would like to call a news flash – because all humans are hypocritical, not just those who entitle themselves Christians!

old church desertedThere are a million reasons for someone to not feel compelled to go to church. You may get incredibly annoyed and turned away from God when you read “Christian” statuses on Facebook. You may not believe that you need to go to church in order to go to heaven. You may think you don’t have time for church. You may not like what a particular church teaches. You may believe God has caused you suffering so you are turned away. You may think you’re too broken for church – what you’ve done is too bad to step foot into a church and ask for forgiveness.

I’m not here to tell you you’re wrong; I don’t know what you’re going through. But, I am here to tell you that whatever your situation might be, you’re missing out.

No matter how good of a person we try to be, none of us are perfect, so we’re going to fail at one point or another. But it’s how you let those experiences change you that shows the world either love or hate. And in this world, everyone feeds off of one another. This world lives by the philosophy an “eye for an eye” or “I didn’t get my way, so I’m certainly not going to let you have yours.” But that’s not what we’re called to do.

Jesus calls us to a different philosophy.

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and send rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? … And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others?”

– Matthew 5:38-47

Living like Jesus is much easier said than done. Living like Jesus would be living perfectly in an imperfect world. If you’re consistently trying to live in this manner, it can be flat out exhausting. If you pour your heart and soul out for others on a regular basis in this broken world, you will grow weary. And eventually, your cup becomes empty, and you can’t pour out from an empty cup. If you don’t have a church and a church family to turn to, who will help remind you to turn to Jesus to become refilled?

What Jesus has to offer turns being overwhelmed with anxiety, fear, and depression into being overwhelmed with peace and love. It turns not ever having enough into having more than you ever could have asked for, even if it is nothing like you planned your life to be.

I’m living proof that lives can be completely transformed when you feel like there’s no hope ahead if you stay in the church. I’m living proof that darkness can be turned into light with the help of Jesus himself. I’m living proof that if you persevere through the times where it’s not easy and you have Jesus by your side, your life will eventually be filled with joy, regardless of what you’re going through. I can promise you that my darkness would still be darkness if I didn’t have the church and Jesus in my life. There would be no hope for my future.

I dare you to prove me wrong by trying it yourself.

AllenAbby Allen is a full-time physical therapist from Springfield, IL. She spends her days doing her best to be Jesus’ hands and feet, facilitating healing of all her patients each day. In her free time, she enjoys writing inspirational and encouraging blog posts, which are written purely from whatever may be weighing on her heart at that time.

 

The Fracturing of Evangelicalism – Will Millennials be the Wedge?

Fractured from Flickr via Wylio

© 2012 Lloyd Davis, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

I have walked among evangelicals my entire life.  Raised in a conservative Baptist tradition, my faith changed after I attended a national meeting where the denomination officially separated themselves from Walt Disney, Promise Keepers, and Billy Graham.  While I understood their fear of modern culture exemplified in media giants like Walt Disney, I wondered how anyone would call Rev. Billy Graham “evil?”

Since then, I have moved among various denominations under the umbrella of Evangelicalism. Evangelicalism as a movement arose within Protestant Christianity in the 1940’s.  The National Association of Evangelicalism (www.nae.net) is the organization which defines and leads this movement.  Approximately 26.3% of Americans identify themselves as Evangelicals, according to Pew research.   While “the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ” is a stated value of the organization, their divergent views on politics and culture may now be causing the movement to break apart.

Cultural issues like homosexuality, politics, and sexism have been splintering the unity of evangelicalism for the past decade.  The organization does not hold official doctrinal statements on these issues and therefore seeks to remain united in spite of their diversity.  However, Millennials might be the wedge that splits this movement.  The rift is not because Millennials want to fracture the movement, or because they hold a hidden secret agenda.  Nor is it due to the media’s frequent characterization of them as lazy, narcissist, or delusional.

rachel evans

Rachel Evans, a popular blogger and speaker.

Millennials are sometimes viewed as the catalyst for progressive changes within Evangelicalism.  In the divide between conservative evangelicals – like Trenton Wax; and more progressive perspectives like Rachel Held Evans, each holds different views on how to reach and re-engage Millennials.  While these and other writers can contribute to change within the church, during the process they are trailblazing pathways in seemingly opposite directions. (see Note below)

Many articles are filled with reasons why evangelicals are leaving the church, including:  churches are too cool; churches are not cool enough; churches are irrelevant; churches are too relevant; churches are too strict; churches are not strict enough; and on and on and on.  However, upon dissecting these statements, one finds that the focus often shifts from young adults themselves onto the cultural war happening within Evangelicalism.

Our desire to reach Millennials may become the wedge that will split us. The progressives are yelling, “Well, if you would stop living in the past…” while conservatives shout back, “If you would stop conforming to the culture!”  Each side is being consumed by their own beliefs.  Each side is filled with anger at “others” who they perceive to be injuring the church.  Each side claims spiritual discernment and is filled with righteous indignation.

Many assert that without change, the future of the church is at stake.  This fear motivates us – especially when it revolves around our children and the legacy we will leave for them.  Unfortunately, this fear often also motivates us to move in unhealthy directions.

All the while, each side is contributing to the fracturing within Evangelicalism, when both should be focusing on the Millennials who are stuck in between them.

Religious communities must ask themselves key questions:

  •  Do we understand emerging adults and their needs during this life phase?
  • How do we reach and re-engage emerging adults?
  • What are our expectations (spoken and unspoken) of emerging adults within our community?
  • Where is there room for Millennials to serve and lead within the church?
  • What messages are we sending to them, and how can we communicate our confidence in them?

These are changes that conservative and progressive evangelicals can agree upon.  May we focus not on the issues that divide, but upon the gospel, and seek to follow the voice of our one God and Savior Jesus Christ.

David - Prof 2Dr. G. David Boyd is the Founder and Managing Director of EA Resources, a non-profit designed to equip parents and churches to understand emerging adulthood.  If you need someone to help your community understand the challenges of emerging adulthood, contact him at gdavid@earesources.org.

Notes:

  1. I believe these authors and leaders want to find unity within the church (just as Jesus prayed for his followers to be one in John 17).  Rachel Held Evans blogged about her personal struggles with the future of evangelicalism, and then “left” evangelicalism and now worships at an Episcopalian church.  However, the church must question whether our unity is even reflected through man-made labels like “evangelicalism.”

Church Refugees by Josh Packard and Ashleigh Hope

Emerging Adults are not the only ones who are leaving the church.  According to the authors of Church Refugees, “The phenomenon of people walking away from congregation-based church has much more to do with how our culture has evolved over the years for everyone, not simply for emerging adults.” (76) While the decline in church participation is greatest among Millennials, churches are seeing decline in every generation.

While I do not hold a negative attitude toward the Millennial Exodus, those who love the church should examine cultural trends, and how God is calling us into a new season of ministry in a rapidly changing world.  Unfortunately, the authors’ research was not based upon a broad or diverse sample.  The researchers state that the sample was diverse geographically, socioeconomically, generationally, and gender; however, the responders were 92% white.  (10)

During their research, the authors coined the expression, “the Dones” to represent the individuals who were once active in church participation, but no longer attend.  Some of these individuals may also be classified as a None (who declare no religious faith) while others still hold tightly to faith (and yet are “Done” with the organized church).  The dechurched, as they sometimes are referred to are “disproportionately people who were heavily involved in their churches.” (50)

old churchThe book offers solutions about how to begin bringing these church refugees back into churches.  The authors share how, “In order to reengage the dechurched, then, our respondents are clear that the church needs to adopt policies and practices that disseminate power, reduce the role of the pastor as the holder and conveyor of all knowledge, and utilize organizational resources to empower people rather than to control them.” (94)  These are important topics that need to be discussed within our churches.

This book contains the “story of what happens when an organization invests in training and discipling scores of people, and yet does very little to retain them or reengage them when they leave.”  (11)  I discovered within this book a call to action.

The Nones won’t go to church, and they are afraid of church leadership. The church needs to provide healing and help for those who have left wounded (those suffering from PTCD – Post-Traumatic Church Disorder).

A rehabilitation process and program is needed for Christians wounded led by Jesus’ followers who can work outside the organized church and possess gifts of mercy and compassion.  If we fail to meet this call, “the church continues to run off faithful followers who are, by their nature or religious conviction, conciliatory, compromising, and nonjudgmental, then we will continue to see a church that’s increasingly insular, alienating, and irrelevant.”  (19)

As the church, we should be passionate about reaching the Nones.  Instead of cycling through decades of “evangelism tactics” like concerts, outreach events, seeker-sensitive bible studies, or tracts, maybe it is time to look around us and backward in time towards those we have hurt and have left David - Prof 2behind.  I completely agree with their statement that “the Dones and the almost Dones are the strongest bridge to the Nones.”  (137)

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Founder and Managing Director of EA Resources, a non-profit designed to help parents and parents understand emerging adulthood.

Your vision is blurry, and you may need glasses

We recently received a note from the school nurse explaining that our son’s vision was getting blurry, and we needed to take him to get some glasses. His blurry vision didn’t happen overnight, and he did not even notice until the nurse revealed the problem. Fortunately, the nurse told us the truth, and the doctor was able to solve the problem.   Continue reading

Setting God’s Table – The Millennials Exodus

  

World Communion Table from Flickr via Wylio

© 2011 wplynn, Flickr | CC-BY-ND | via Wylio

(This is part of a series written by Millennials who have either left or stuck with the church.  If you are a Millennial and would like to submit your work for publication, you will earn $100.  Here is the link.  To read more stories about Millennials search Millennial Exodus.  If you would like to fund our research among emerging adults, click here.)

Here is Bethany’s story.

Confession time: I am hungry. I don’t mean for snacks; I mean spiritually, socially, meaningfully, hungry. And the church hasn’t exactly filled me up.

Not that I haven’t put in my part. I’ve attended churches across the spectrum, from the one with a steeple to the one that met in a yoga studio.

old church desertedI’ve heard great sermons and sung great music, but sermons and music are about as filling to a hungry soul as watching a cooking show is to a hungry body.

I long for community. I desire in the deepest way to know that my life means something, and that I’m not alone, and that God is real. I am a broken person in a broken world, and I want to be healed.

I have tasted these things in church, one bite at a time. There’s the pastor who invited me to lead worship and join the church council, though I was decades younger than the average member. There’s the church camp where I learned that every person–even me–is called by God to love and serve. There’s the nourishment of communion, and the people who look in my eyes every week and tell me that Christ’s body was broken for me.

Maybe I’m stubborn, but I’m refusing to give up on the church. I’m so hungry for a church that will feed my people, but these nibbles of grace are enough to keep me coming back. I’m here to set the table for God’s feast to come, where we will all be fed. I hope to see you there.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” –Matthew 5:6

Bethany HeadshotBethany Ringdal is a student at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she is studying to become a Lutheran pastor. She’s a former camp director, a gardener and avid home-cook, and is being healed every day by the love of God. 

Millennials are now Parents – What does this mean for the church?

Time Magazine recently featured an article about Millennials examining how they parent.  The transition of Millennials as lazy, narcissistic children into parents is happening quickly (The words lazy and narcissistic came from a previous Time article).  According to Time, “Millennial parents number more than 22 million in the U.S., with about 9,000 babies born to them each day. This growing cohort of parents is digitally native, ethnically diverse, late-marrying, and less bound by traditional gender roles than any generation before it.”  (Source)

According to Time, “Millennial parents are attempting to run their families as mini-democracies, seeking consensus from spouses, kids and extended friend circles on even the smallest decisions. They seek wisdom from those closest to them, rather than the highly-marketed “parenting experts.”  They’re backing away from the overscheduled days of their youth, preferring a more responsive, less directorial approach to activities.”

Here is the full article.

As Millennials become parents, churches will need to respond to connect to this new generations.

Connectivity with their children.

Take my hand from Flickr via Wylio

© 2012 Stephan Hochhaus, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Through the use of technology, Millennials are used to being in constant contact with their children.   Most childcare centers use the latest technology to keep Millennials informed and connected with their children.  They don’t want a paper describing the lesson when they can have a picture of their child showing it.  Millennials are now the main clientele of the nursery, and their values should affect how we serve them.  The days of publicly humiliating them by removing them from the service, or flashing their child’s number on the screen should be over.  In order to provide Millennials with the security they desire use an app or a simple text message.

 Gender Roles as Parents

Today’s millennials do not hold traditional gender roles.  While, the percentage of stay-at-home mothers is increasing (with the recovery of the economy, almost 29 percent of women stay at home with their children), marital roles are more fluid.  Train your staff and volunteers to avoid assumptions and comments based upon traditional gender roles so as to not offend visitors or regular attenders.  [Load graph of Stay at home mothers from Pew Research.]  Avoid sermon illustrations and media pics that present one perspective of family life.

 Use, but don’t abuse Social Media

© 2012 Jason Howie, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

“Eight-four percent of Millennials are social media users, with 66% of Gen X on social networks and 44% of Baby Boomers. According to the study, more than half of the U.S. users on Twitter are Millennials.” (Source)  We should not abuse these platforms to push our own programs, but use these connections to become involved in the lives of people. The appeal of social media is snap shot of people’s lives, and not desperate pleas to come to your events.  Mind your manners on social media, or you eventually will either be ignored or deleted.  As a church, use social media in order to understand their daily lives and know their values.

While it is truly impossible to describe how Millennials as a generation will parent, research reveals that they hold different values, beliefs, and perspectives.  According to the Time article, Millennials want their children to be, “Open-minded. empathetic. questioning.”  These differences will change their expectations for church ministries and staff members.

Church leaders should begin to ask how these values will express themselves as their children enter other ministries of the church.  Our nursery workers will be the first to experience Millennials as parents, and they will lead us into this change.

Leave a comment about how Millennials having children will change the church.

David - Prof 2

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Managing Director of EA Resources, a non-profit designed to equip churches and parents to minister to emerging adults.

An Example of Generational Mediation – Tattoos

© 2009 Lisa Padilla, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

We met at my favorite spot – McDonalds, the home of free wifi and endless sweet tea.  The man immediately began to open up about his son, and how proud he was of his academic achievement and occupational accomplishments.  At twenty years old, his son was not a slacker or self-absorbed like most other Millennials (if you believe the media).  He was already financially self-sufficient, and held down a career job.  But in spite of his fatherly pride, something had robbed this father of the ability to enjoy his son.

His son was the last of four children, and had been born to the father much later in life.  The father expressed how often he struggled to understand his son in ways that he did not have with his other children who were almost ten years older.

tattooHe had asked his son to refrain from tattoos until he was twenty-one.  The father’s reasoning included the under-developed brain of emerging adults, his spiritual viewpoint of tattoos, and their long-term impact upon the individual’s body.   Although he couldn’t imagine how anyone would want a tattoo, he would allow his child this option at the proper age.

The son ignored his father’s wishes, and the father’s disappointment was obvious.  He was trying not to take his son’s decision personally, but it still hurt.  The reasons not to get a tattoo were so clear to him.  Why would anyone get a tattoo when “style” change so frequently?  He used the word “style” in reference to tattoos several times during our discussion.

I asked what he meant by “style” and he said.  “In our world clothing styles change every season, and hair styles change once every couple of months.  Why would you get a permanent tattoo?”

While growing up, I often heard people associate tattoos as a trend.  With a larger portion of the population getting inked in today’s world, few would categorized tattoos as a style or fad that changes change with time.  In my discussions with emerging adults, the decision to get a tattoo often reflected a life event, core belief, or part of their identity (more – Sacred Ink).

They are the opposite of a fad, but tattoos often reflect a person’s longing for permanence and search for uniqueness.  The process of globalization has made it even more difficult for people to establish their own place in our world.  Tattoos are a simple way for humans to create a marker of their identity.

As I began to speak, there was a beautiful moment as for the first time, the father understood his son’s perspective.  We sat in a quiet moment.  When our time ended, he turned to me and said, “I have learned a lot.  We should talk again.”

David - Prof 2Another day in the life of a generational mediator.

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Managing Director of EA Resources, a non-profit that seeks to equip churches and parents to minister to emerging adults.

 

Creating a Vision for Emerging Adult Ministry

A vision of a renewed Jerusalem was given by Nehemiah to rebuild the walls.  In Nehemiah 2:17-18, Nehemiah says,

group of girls

Photo courtesy of Aaron Robert Photography. Copyright 2014. www.aaronrobertphotography.com

“You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me.”

Nehemiah starts with their present condition, and moves to where they should go by providing them a vision and a reminder that God is with them.

A vision does not provide a picture of the way things are, but an image of what could and should be.  It focuses a community on where they are going and what must be done to get there.  It unifies them as they work towards the common good.

If you are seeking a vision for how to minister to emerging adults, here are a few reflections:

Visions are God-given.

group of girls2

Photo courtesy of Aaron Robert Photography. Copyright 2014. www.aaronrobertphotography.com

True visions cannot be copied.  You do not pick them up at a conference, or by mimicking another ministry model.  Visions come while seeking the presence of God.  Due to the overwhelming church-as-business culture, the terms vision and mission statement are often misconstrued to be synonymous when they are quite different.  We have been taught all visions must be easy to read, look nice in print, and be filled with hip lingo.  However, true visions do not require confirmation by human intellect, approval by church hierarchy, and cannot be minimized by available resources.  If you want a God-given vision cancel your conference, turn off the noise, and sit in the presence of God’s Spirit.

Visions are Spirit-led.

Leaders are always searching for evidence of the Spirit’s work.  They are constantly seeking for stirrings of spiritual growth, and wondering either how they can help, or how to get out of the way.  In Henry Blackabee’s study Experiencing God, he says, “Go to where God is at work, and join Him there.”

Due to the dynamic nature of our world, visions can change.  They are not eternal, but have a shelf-life which is often dependent upon leadership.  This doesn’t mean that the vision was wrong, but that it needs to shift due to our constantly changing world.

Visions are human-powered.

While visions are given by God, we are His hands and feet in this world to accomplish the work.  I Corinthians 3:9 says, “For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.”  We have the privilege of working side-by-side with others in God’s service.  Because developing and realizing your vision is so much work, it is important to enlist the help of a team.

Nehemiah couldn’t build the wall alone, and neither can you.  Look to God for a vision, seeking guidance by the Spirit, and recruit a team to work beside you.

David - Prof 2Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.  (Proverbs 29:18)

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Managing Director of EA Resources, a non-profit designed to equip churches and parents to minister to emerging adults.

This May All Go to Sh*t: An Open Letter to Millennial Church Leaders – Huffington Post

Do you know what the hell you’re doing? Because we’re coming clean and admitting that often times we don’t.

For starters, let’s agree we’re past the whole “millennials vs the church” conversation. “Millennials hate the church.” “Millennials don’t believe in institutions or organized religion.” “Millennials don’t tithe because they’re selfish!” We know the stereotypes and stats. We’re just not interested in engaging that kind of click-bait navel gazing. Continue reading