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Between malls & martyrs

"Between malls & martyrs" Continued...

Issue: "Is there no tomorrow?," Aug. 7, 1999

"Kids?"

"Yeah."

"Don't their parents complain to you?"

"No one's ever come in and said anything. Parents don't care about that stuff."

And that's the disturbing story behind these statistics. Teens are affluent, but they feel abandoned.

"The money kids get is guilt money, a lot of the time," says Laura. "I see it in my friends, I see it when I babysit, even. I've stayed with lots of kids who have every toy you can think of, who have everything they can ask for, but they don't see their parents much because they're so busy. Love means time. Love means discipline. Kids know that."

"They don't feel that anyone cares about them," Mr. Barna says of the Echo Boomers. "The fact is a majority of their parents are Baby Boomers who are very achievement-oriented. Everything they do is filtered through the lens of 'What have I accomplished?' And they've brought that mindset home with them. As a consequence, their children don't believe unconditional love exists."

And they don't believe in absolutes, either, he says. More than 80 percent of teens say there are no moral absolutes, no absolute truths, no definitive ethical realities.

"They have been taught to think by computers and by fast-edit video," he contends. "They have an overwhelming amount of information coming at them through the popular culture."

What should the church learn from these surveys?

"Teens are relational-if we want to evangelize them, we're going to have to do it the hard way, with relationships," says Mr. Barna. "Realize that a majority of Americans who accept Christ as their Lord do so before they reach age 19. The teen years represent our last great chance to effectively reach people."

Youth ministries, which Mr. Barna says "often means glorified babysitting," must bring teens into relationships with caring adults.

"It's going to take more than just Wednesday night games and fun times," he says. "They need the Truth, but they're not going to accept it if you say, 'Here it is, believe it'... We must inextricably tie evangelism to discipleship."

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