Today’s youth no longer get their information solely from the people they know. With so many hours spent on the internet, this new generation is learning from and finding their role models from the internet. If you work in any kind of ministry capacity or with youth, you need to keep up with who they’re keeping up with- and hopefully it’s not the Kardashians.
Our youth are extremely passionate about issues of race, sexuality, and mental health. Growing up in a church environment, the likelihood is that you received little information about how to handle the issues that our youth are confronted with every day. What do you do when someone from your youth group comes to you and admits they’re feeling attracted to the same sex? What happens when the young people in your church want to know how to respond to the racial tension in America from a Christian perspective?
Here are five people who are singers, rap artists, pastors, researchers, and parents who are navigating through this world with these same exact questions. These people use their platform to influence our generation to think deeply and confront the world as Jesus would have. Give them a follow on their various social media channels and find out what they have to say about the issues impacting the world now.
Don’t be lazy and make assumptions about people. Ask about their story. Then listen. Be humble. Be teachable. Be human. Be a good neighbor.
— Eugene Cho (@EugeneCho) March 6, 2017
Eugene Cho is the Lead Pastor of Quest Church in Seattle, an author, and the founder of One Day’s Wages, a grassroots movement that promotes awareness about global poverty and sustainable relief. Cho is an Asian American leader who consistently challenge the church to pursue racial reconciliation- but he doesn’t believe the issues are just black and white. Cho consistently calls christians to speak out about injustice as both perpetrators and victims, no matter what race it involves. His church features classes on “Faith and Race”, and he pushes to educate his congregation on issues that most churches shy far away from. In an interview with Christianity Today, Cho said, “When it’s all said and done, it’s not a race issue for me; it’s a gospel issue… The gospel is so extraordinary that it begins to inform and, we pray, transform all aspects of our lives. We talk about race and racism because we believe in the gospel.”
Switchfoot has been around for a long time, and their lead singer, Jon Foreman, has a has a huge heart for people. Don’t believe me? Watch him carry a case of water out to a group of KJV only-ers protesting outside one of his concerts. Foreman will even show up after his concerts at locations requested by fans to play surprise after shows in the freezing snow. He tackles issues such as mental health, political tensions, and even ISIS on his social media accounts and in blogs for Huffpost. Switchfoot’s lyrics have always been deep and thought provoking, citing that they “try to make music for thinking people”. They have consistently fought to raise awareness about sex trafficking, and regularly support TWLOHA, a project to end self harm.
The transgender community needs love. Not a love that glosses over truth. But a love that empathizes and warns. Christ is Savior and judge.
— Jackie Hill Perry (@JackieHillPerry) June 1, 2015
Jackie Hill Perry’s spoken word performance of her poem “My life as a stud” has garnered over half a million views on youtube. Her perspective as a sexual abuse survivor and former lesbian saved by Christ gives her invaluable insight into issues of sexuality for the Christian community. Not only does she use her voice to speak out against the normalization of sexual sin in our culture, she shares her thoughts on the world through this distinct vantage point and calls Christians to love and serve people as ones who are made in the image of Christ. If there is anyone who can give a voice to the hurting, and help young people navigate this sexually confused generation, it’s Jackie Hill Perry. Read her “Love Letter to a Lesbian” written for John Pipers “Desiring God” here.
Too often, we think we've repented when all we've done is replace one idol with another.
— Sarah Cunningham (@sarahcunning) March 10, 2017
Cunningham is a Christian author and researcher who deals heavily with community and social connectedness. She has taken the past few years to interview hundreds of people, and in the process has learned that not having friends is as unhealthy for this generation as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. We have a connection crisis going on throughout the world, and she wants to teach people how to build a stronger connection with those around them. Her website offers so many great, free resources for young people including podcasts, blogs, and youtube videos. She also has a heart for the Flint water crisis with many educational resources about that on her website. Her heart for Refugees shows in her work for the mid-Michigan chapter of Euphrates, which is an organization which seeks to open up dialogue and raise awareness about the stories and challenges of immigrants and refugees.
Each morning I have to attend a funeral. My own. I have to wake up and once again die to my desires for people’s approval.
— Lecrae (@lecrae) January 5, 2017
Lecrae is a rap artist both praised and ostracized for everything from his troubled past to his blunt confrontation of the injustices he sees within the Christian community. Having grown up in rough cities like Houston, Atlanta, and Denver, Lecrae experienced every kind of abuse and turned to drugs and violence. When Lecrae was saved at the age of 19, he knew he wanted to use his music to spread hope through his amazing testimony. Whether he’s witnessing to big name rappers like Kendrick Lamar, writing think pieces for Billboard magazine, speaking in prisons, or making an instagram post about his relationship with Christ that will be seen by , Lecrae always keeps the focus on God. When protests like Ferguson were making their rounds across cities in America, Lecrae didn’t just tweet about it- he hit the streets and encouraged young people to facilitate change without using violence. When he saw the negative impact that a lack of fatherhood was making on his community, he created initiatives with the white house to help restore a healthy commitment to fatherhood in America. Lecrae founded Reach records at the age of 25, with artists and fans (“The 116 clique”) rallying around Romans 1:16 which calls us to be “unashamed” of the gospel. Lecrae hits hard on subjects that are deep on the mind of our young people, with lyrics crafted to make the listener think- from the sex slave trade, to violence and misogyny in the hip hop community, to Christians judging each other for what they wear to church, Lecrae is speaking to a generation of young people, and they’re listening.
The right response to the problems in our world is… becoming part of the solution. Few people like crime, looting, and violence, but even fewer get their hands dirty in the rehabilitation process. Everyone makes choices but not everyone has examples in their life giving them guidance on the choices they make. Be the change you want see in the world. #WhatAreYouDoingAboutIt