The Man (or Woman) in the Mirror

Man in the mirror (or woman)
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youth and young adults:

A Check on your own attitudes and responses to the world. Who is that “Man in the Mirror”?
By Jenna Blackwell

Do you listen to Michael Jackson? It can be difficult not to sing along to songs like Beat It, I Want You Back, or Man in the Mirror. A friend recently played a Jackson song as a trivia night question, and while it didn’t create an uproar, it certainly started discussion!

Not sure what I’m talking about? Welcome to cancel culture – the culture that ‘cancels’ a person, group or organisation due to a conflict in values. It is now at work in our community today.

Michael Jackson: This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-SA-NC
Man in the Mirror

Predominantly, it happens when there is a perception of immoral or unethical production, content, or in Jackson’s case, inappropriate behaviour with young people.

A Growing Awareness

People in today’s society, especially younger adults, are affected by mistrust, abuse and non-transparency. It may be because of their own experiences or learnt second-hand from the experiences of their parents. It includes the unbridled use of the planet’s resources, often fuelled by greed and unsustainable practices. Young people have an awareness in their hearts of the need for justice, equality, and fairness.

People in today’s society, especially younger adults, have been affected by mistrust, abuse and non-transparency.

The rise of clothing companies who value ethical practices and sustainability is a response to the is a concern of many, including the younger generation. This is because consumers boycott companies due to unethical treatment of workers. And more younger adults switch to ethical banks and superannuation funds.

Recently, our Mission Director, Stephen Baxter wrote, “The challenges facing churches are not due to the Church gone wrong, but a world grown different . . . God uses times like these to reform and renew his Church.”

Actions Speak Louder

So, what does this have to do with ministry for children, youth, and young adults?

These days, character speaks more than competency, and trust must be built and maintained. We have a message that needs to be heard by those who have never heard it, and by those who have heard a different variation of it.

We have a message that needs to be heard by those who have never heard it.
"Man in the Mirror"

It is a message of hope in Jesus Christ – not just for eternal life, but for transformation, change and love – here and now.

In these days of cancel culture, when character, integrity and aligning actions speak volumes (and the lack of such speaks even louder), we have a message that needs to be heard.

Since I started working for Tas Baptists a few years ago, several youth groups have shut down. Two new ones started, but overall, the youth scene has significantly decreased. This is sad and frustrating. And, while I am prone to take responsibility upon myself, we all have a part to play.

If younger people are willing to pay more for something that has a greater impact, what’s stopping them connecting with the cost of following Jesus?

Ponder these Points

As we imagine how to re-engage with younger generations (or any of society), let me present you with some points to ponder:

  • Following Jesus is costly. If younger people are willing to pay more for something that has a greater impact, what’s stopping them connecting with the cost of following Jesus?
    • Is it purely a lack of knowing or hearing? Or is it not being exampled?
    • Is it a lack of trust based on history – how we’ve treated people and the planet?
  • How well do speak of, and example, our Jesus of compassion, mercy, truth and forgiveness?
  • Do we value their voice? Are we too caught up in our well-known and well-loved songs?
  • Quite practically, is our tea and coffee ethically produced and traded? In other words, do we care more about Kingdom values or dollar values?

Checking that Man in the Mirror

Two questions for you to consider as you go about your work today, your church meetings and your Bible study.
"Man in the Mirror"

So, I have two questions for you to consider as you go about your work today, your church meetings and your Bible study. Let me challenge you to check yourself in the mirror.

  1. What are you doing with Jesus’ message of hope?

  2. How can you (and your church) share it, and example it, with the young people in your life?

Maybe today, you can take one small step towards sharing that message of hope with our young people.


Jenna Blackwell

Jenna Blackwell was, until recently, overseeing the Baptist youth and young adults’ ministry in Tasmania. She is the Tasmanian Baptists’ Leadership Development Coach, and a member of the AB Next Generations taskforce.
jenna@tasbaptists.org.au


READ MORE IN THE NOV/DEC 2021 ADVANCE | STEP BY STEP

MERGE YOUTH

Merge Youth Citywide
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youth:

Citywide’s Merge Youth Kick Goals

A Great Space for Teens

Matthew Henderson leads MERGE Youth, Citywide’s youth program. He also serves as an Elder, and on the Teaching Team

The MERGE youth program at Citywide Baptist church has been a lot of fun during 2021.

At MERGE, we provide a space for teenagers where they can let down their hair and blow off some steam. At the same time, we create space for conversations and group discussions. These are spiritually uplifting, spiritually educational, and spiritually healthy for everyone who participates.

MERGE Olympics

This year we’ve spent a lot of time getting to know each other better, as I am new to the role of leading this group. We’ve also learnt a lot about heroes from the Old Testament, which is an area of biblical learning often overlooked.

Merge is blessed to have several very talented young leaders as part of the team. It’s exciting to give these committed and gifted young adults the permission and opportunity to test out their leadership skills.

A Different Spin

Earlier this year we had a fantastic night with a ‘Glow in the Dark theme.’

It’s amazing how many games and activities have a different spin when your only lighting consists of a few florescent head and wrist bands! This year we also celebrated Christmas in July, with a big Christmas-themed night of activities and fun. Finally, just last week, the 2021 MERGE Olympics took place. We had another great night filled with fun and friendship.

For me, the best part of our MERGE youth group is the genuine friendships that have developed. As well, we enjoy deep and important conversations about the Bible, Jesus, and the issues faced by young people. They are trying to navigate a complex and confusing world, and need help!

So far, 2021 has been great. And we’re looking forward to having even more great times together as the year progresses.


About Matt

Matt Henderson is married, and father to three boys (21, 13 & 8). His two younger sons are both on the Autism Spectrum. Currently, he’s completing a Bachelor of Ministry at Alphacrucis College in Hobart. He enjoys working with young people and sharing Jesus with them, loves to play games, watch movies, and he’s an amateur film maker.

Read more in the July/August 2021 ADVANCE | step by step