Young people arent likely to talk about God, but what is it that they want us to hear?

God God God God God

There used to be a time when young people couldn’t stop talking about God.


But Youthscape are right.

Young people are not talking about God.

Heres a link to their research

Though they did only interviewed 16 young people for their study.

But overall Youthscape’s research is evident of a tidal cultural shift in young people over the last 100 years, that missiologicaly, ecclesiology and sociologically, is pretty accurate.

For At the turn of the century in 1900. Young people couldn’t stop talking about God. It was an acute phenomenon. Whilst 4 million of them went to sunday schools then, God was the only topic of conversation. God this, God that. God everywhere.

But since post modernism. Young people just all of a sudden stopped talking about God. Or was it generation CCC, the generation of young people now concerned with what’s visible. Not the unseen.

Get real.

Young people dont talk about God. What do you think they are or have been before.. minature Billy Grahams or Phylis tickles? Wining away their early hours studying augustine, barth or bonhoeffer? (Maybe cs Lewis but hey..)

In my own scientific research, consisting of 1500 hours of street based youthwork, generally unless we talk about God as workers, or receive questions from young people like

You must be mad, paid well or Christians to be out here talking to us, which are you?

And the answer is obviously the second of these. God isn’t mentioned unless we bring it up.

But young people, generally don’t care about us as youthworkers, let alone about a faith we might have.

The 100’s I’ve spoken to on the streets are concerned about;

1. Themselves

2. Their popularity

3. Survival

4. Avoiding stress

5. Escaping reality

6. Sport

7. School

8. Being liked by us as a team/workers

9. Each other

10. Family

Thats what they want to talk about.

More importantly thats what young people want us to listen to. To hear.

They are often in a struggle to survive.

And this is not in any particular order. Often there’s a rare case, and I mean rare that as we walk around an estate looking for young people to talk to, that we interrupt a small group of young people in a car park doing a bible study. But its very rare.

What we find instead are communities of young people finding a peaceful space in the margins, trying to get a breather from the stress of each structure such as family or school or the job centre.

But obviously this wasn’t the case 100 years ago. When ministers walked around their parishes they couldn’t move for interrupting public prayer meetings or bible study groups all around and God this , God that.

If we thought things had changed we’ve got something wrong. In a context of a church, a festival or faith community, young people may be more likely to talk about God. Or prompted in a connection or interaction. But of their own accord? Does God really figure in young people as a public conversation?

If christian young people arent talking about God. Then it’s no different to what Christian Smith identified 11 years ago in his research which birthed the much quoted MTD syndrome.

Nick Shepherd suggest that faith needs to be credible, plausible and part of a young persons identity (Faith generation, 2016). Maybe youth ministry practices don’t currently do this it’s not credible for young people to talk about God.

But let’s not kid ourselves. Young people aren’t talking about God. They haven’t got time to contemplate the transcendent. Every aspect of culture is to distract them from this person and persuit. Even time is outcome orientated. Spirituality squeezed.

Christian young people arent talking about God. Let’s face it how many conversations do adults have about God, even over coffee in churches. Yes. Exactly.

But what is it young people want us to hear?

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