The last two years have been some of the most challenging times for children and teenagers in modern history. According to a recent article by the Fuller Youth Institute, anxiety among teenagers tripled in the first 12 months of the pandemic and depression quadrupled. The article also sadly reminds us that suicide is the second-leading cause of death among teens. These are hard days for teenagers.
When you consider the challenges children have faced, our concerns only mount as we see the next generation facing unprecedented times. Dealing with day-to-day uncertainty and virtual learning environments has created its own set of unique challenges.
For the church, it is easy to observe that the pandemic has taken its toll on our families, as many of them have yet to return to regular attendance.
These facts regarding children, teenagers and families are why our Next Gen team exists. While we recognize some of these things as challenges, we believe Jesus will still provide the hope needed for this generation to live for God in new and profound ways.
The Next Gen department of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board has gone out of its way to be intentional. At least two of the staff have met and visited with me personally over the last year. Whenever I have needed help or a question answered, they have been more than available. Also, because of the Next Gen department, I have been able to connect with youth leaders around the state through a weekly virtual meeting called Unwind. I have served as a Next Gen minister in Georgia for six years, and this is the most I have ever been connected with the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.
– Stephen Fraser, Student Minister
Bethesda Baptist Church, Ellerslie
Our Next Gen team is thankful to come alongside churches as they pursue children and teenagers with the gospel. Through ministry opportunities like VBS, camps and conferences, we’ve seen children and teenagers respond to the gospel in ways we’ve not seen in recent years. God is moving in the lives of this next generation, and everything seems to indicate that this generation wants to respond.
At our own camps (Impact & SuperWow), winter retreat (Move Conference) and worship conference (ReelFest), we have seen upwards of 50 students step out in obedience to a call to ministry. We are also greatly encouraged as we know of thousands of teenagers who have responded to the gospel throughout the U.S. at other youth gatherings. This, along with tremendous response from children as they attend VBS, is encouraging.
Challenging days? Yes. But exciting days??? We say yes!
We are here for you. If there is a way we can come alongside you and help you effectively reach this next generation, we want to help. We encourage you to connect with your regional consultant today by visiting our webpage at gabaptist.org/nextgen.