If you know any students who recently returned to school, whether it be for first grade or their senior year of college, you are probably praying fervently for them—that God would bless this time, give them courage, strength and wisdom, and help them to find good friends who also love Jesus.
This is certainly an important prayer, and one I am praying as well. Each year, I interact with tens of thousands of young people in churches, at retreats and through events. And each year at this time, I think of all those students who are maybe anxious about a new school year and apprehensive about academic or social challenges.
We remember that time of our lives, don’t we? We were just getting to know who we truly were, unsure of the path God had set before us. Hopefully, we followed Him faithfully and are now carrying out His will for our lives. What else could we possibly want for the young people we know and love?
Will you partner with Alex McFarland Ministries to help young people discover God’s will for their lives by continuing to support our work?
As millions of students across the nation head back to school, I have a math problem for you:
What’s 8+5, you might ask? Well, yes, it equals 13, but 8+5 is also a lesson I want to teach you about young people, college students and millennials.
First—the “8.” In my new book, Abandoned Faith, co-authored with my friend, Jason Jimenez, I list 8 values that drive millennials. I hope this list will help you get to know the millennial in your life a little better so you can perhaps use this knowledge to point them to Jesus in a real and tangible way.
1. Meaningful Work—For millennials, it’s imperative their jobs have a greater impact on society. Vocation is valuable and meaningful to millennials, as well as to Christians in general. When taught and experienced together, millennials can find a work-life mix that connects with faith in powerful ways.
2. Collaboration—Today’s digital natives have worked in a wide variety of teams since preschool, and the importance of teamwork rarely needs to be taught to millennials because they have practiced it for many years.
3. Staying Connected—Millennials are accurately described as the world’s most connected generation. Some 80 percent sleep with their cell phones next to their beds, three-quarters have profiles on social networking sites, and nearly half sometimes choose to spend time with friends online instead of seeing them in person. Constant connection drives much of the millennial’s life.
4. Social Justice—This generation desires to make a difference in the world. Nearly every millennial has a cause or organization to promote, somewhere to volunteer or a place where he or she gives.
5. Diversity—A Public Religion Research Institute study that found that college-age millennials are considerably more racially and ethnically diverse than the general population. This change in composition has led to a healthier acceptance of various cultures and backgrounds. And today, an increasing number of churches are beginning to reflect this diversity.
6. Spiritual But Not Religious—Many studies have surmised that millennials are the least overtly religious American generation in modern times and have mixed feelings toward modern Christianity. Millennials are generally open to spiritual discussions and practices if communicated without the stereotypes.
7. Education—The Pew Research Center found that millennials are also likely to become the most educated generation in American history. They are quick to embrace degrees and training certifications that lead to better career opportunities. For pastors and churches, this also means that some millennials will find answers to their spiritual questions through Google searches instead of a Sunday sermon.
8. Skepticism—Raised in an age of terrorism and the invasion of Internet privacies, millennials are highly skeptical of government, institutions and even churches. Even millennials’ lower number of marriages may be partly attributed to the general lack of trust in relationships.
So if you’re wondering what makes young people tick, hopefully that list will help. Now, onto the “5…”
I was recently blessed to pen an editorial for Fox News where I outlined 5 skills every college student should take with them when they return to campus. These skills, which are good info for parents too, help ensure that college students will find success—academically, socially and spiritually.
1. Discipline—In both college and in life, we must supervise ourselves and take ownership of certain things, such as arriving punctually for commitments and meeting deadlines. I encourage young people to keep a “to do” list in a way that works for them to become a disciplined person.
2. Decision Making—It has been said that good leaders don’t make good decisions; good leaders make hard decisions. Every college student should see themselves as a leader—at least in terms of their own development and future. Students should carefully, and prayerfully, make these life decisions, knowing where to invest and what to jettison. College is a training ground to hone this ability.
3. Discernment—A wise professor once told me: “Show me who your friends are and I will tell you who you’ll be in 10 years.” Many promising young futures have been lost on the university campus. The pursuit of higher education—though valuable—also comes with risk. Far too many universities can be places where critical thinking skills and one’s worldview are deeply warped. Parents, don’t send your children to a school where they will be programmed to become a godless hater of America.
4. Direction—Success at college depends on a clear and realistic vision. Repeated indecision gets expensive. I encourage parents to make their child help pay their own tuition. Let the student have some financial skin in the game, and watch their responsibility level increase!
5. Dedication—Along the way, many students may feel like “throwing in the towel,” but I encourage students to remember a line from the film Apollo 13: “Failure is not an option.” Students should approach college with this mindset of commitment. They can make the mental commitment that, God-willing, nothing will stop them from “going the distance.”
So, you may ask, what does all this have to do with Alex McFarland Ministries? By reaching America’s young people with these 5 critical disciplines, and by knowing the 8 values that drive them, I hope to continue to impact our culture for Christ. By getting to know young people personally, speaking into their lives and genuinely caring about them, we can—and will—introduce them to our Savior!
Will you help me reach even more young people for Him with a gift that will enable us to travel more, speak more, train more, teach more, write more and make a greater impact for the Kingdom?
I have been blessed to witness thousands of young souls coming to Christ, and am truly honored to rejoice with them over the best decision of their lives. How much better would it be if middle school, high school and college students found Jesus early in life, saving them potentially years of self-destructive decisions and heartache? I hope you will not only take this “8+5” lesson to reach a young person in your life, but continue to partner with me so that, together, we can bring more young souls to Christ so they may live their entire lives for Him!
I appreciate you and your faithfulness to my ministry! I look forward to partnering with you financially this school year, and if you are considering a regularly monthly gift, please know that it will be stewarded wisely for God’s Kingdom. Thank you and God bless you!