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Worldview and Youth Discipleship

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Discipling the youth is one of the most challenging ministry in the churches today because their worldview, whether they are aware of it or not, is highly shaped by the media technologies. When I was young until I enrolled in the university for my college degree, it is very evident that my loves, desires, behavior and values are greatly influenced by my family, culture and peers. Looking at our young generation today, as I observe and relate to them, it is very evident that their loves, desires, behavior and values are extremely affected by the fast pace advancement of technology and the rapid change of social norms and standards which is also affected by none other than information and communication technology. According to the article Sharing an integral Christian worldview with a younger generation: Why and how it should be done and received? Benny J. Van Der Walt said that, The Christian youth of today is strongly influenced by contemporary cultural tendencies, often incompatible with a biblically based worldview (Walt 2017). I agree with this statement because these young generation are exposed to different cultures acquired through information technology. That is why the need of sharing Christian worldview to them is very essential and this can be accomplished through discipleship.

In the youth group that I am currently overseeing, all of them are struggling with their identity in terms of self-worth, belongingness and sometimes identity in terms of gender. Their worldview is greatly formed by the massive transmission of information by the advancing technologies in addition to their family and community culture. Their identity is at stake because they felt lost and longing for connectivity and peer interaction which they found in social media. This is the effects of sin. Man was created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27) but because of sin, man was lost (Romans 3:23). His identity was lost because sin distorted man’s perspective of himself and its purpose. Technology itself it’s not bad, it is part of cultural development which God mandated man to do (Genesis 1:28). It is very useful in the economy, entertainment, arts, health and education. But it is also tainted by sin. As stated in a connected and plugged-in worldview: Young people and new media by Bertie Loubser, The methods by which students and other young people acquire and assimilate new knowledge (epistemologically), process and understand information (cognitively) and create or formulate personal meaning and significance (metaphysically), are all modified and informed by their consumption of new technologies. Therefore, in the pursuit of an acceptable worldview by their peers and community, young people have to grapple with both objectively perceived, as well as the subjectively experienced manifestations of the networked world; a world immersed in new media (Loubser 2012). Their active engagement of social networking sites and their use of the technology of instant messaging is highly influencing their being because technology changes the way people learn, create and process information. This scenario will lead to a reformation of a person’s worldview where the younger generation are the immediate recipient because of their high exposure of new technologies. Many students and young people considered media technologies as something of great importance in their lives, it already became a necessity. Technologies such as mobile phones, tablets, iPads and computers are implicated in the formation of individuality and personhood of the young generation. It is highly used in the youth culture to communicate a desired image to others, to express social status and to form a visible personal characteristic in the formation of an identity. Too many teens are more comfortable in the environment of online chat room conversation rather than in the case of offline and face-to-face encounters (Loubser 2012). If we want to know them more, who their friends are, their activities, their thoughts and emotions, we can just check their profiles in their social media accounts, Facebook, Instagram, Line and Twitter. In short, the cultural worldview which is formed and greatly influence by the use of technologies permeated in the lives of the young generation by shaping their identity. One example of this is, there are some students in our group who grew in the church but they have different perspective of things that are not part of their family culture. They have multiple worldviews which are not only influenced by their family, community, school and workplace, but it is globally based because of their unlimited access to worldwide cultures through internet surfing and social networking. Their worldviews are extremely influenced by the so-called online community, group chat or chat room. In the Asian context, even though you reached a legal age of 18 or 21 as long as you are still living with your parents, you have to let them know your whereabouts despite your independency in terms of making decisions and responsibility. When I was at this age, I still let my parents know these things to show my honor and respect to them, but today’s younger generation is different, independency means complete freedom from their parent’s or guardian’s supervision.

Albert M. Wolters in his book Creation Regained, he wrote that, What was formed in creation has been historically deformed by sin and must be reformed in Chris(Wolters 2005). Because of sin, humankind and all creation were distorted. As Christians, we are mandated to go and make disciples and teach them to obey God’s commandments (Matthew 28:19-20). To counter the habituation of the negative effects of media technology in the younger generation, sharing Christian worldview must be integrated in all aspects of the ministries in the church, especially in the area of evangelism and making disciples. In reaching out to the young generation, we need to make sure that we present the gospel in such a way that the gospel is relevant in their lives. Since their worldview is formed by media technologies, their hearts are occupied by it and their being-in-the-world is shaped by social media networking worldwide, we can capitalize reaching out to them through the cultural redemption in the area of technology because information and communication technologies are so useful in our education, health, employment skills, connecting to families in different places and so forth. The following are suggested steps we can do to evangelize: (1) Analyze the worldviews of the targets by asking specific sets of questions. These questions focus on their loves and desires which are based on the five worldview questions; What is the ultimate reality? Who am I? Where Am I? What is the problem? What is the remedy? Examples of these questions are; what the most significant thing in your life is, how do you spend most of your time, who are your friends and what are the things that you do together. Through their answers we can be able to identify the entry point of connecting deeper to the targets. In this stage, we can apply presence evangelism by spending time with the target; (2) Strategize the right approach in building relationship with the targets base on their worldviews. Basically, we will not stick to one approach even the targets have similar worldviews because majority of the nonbelievers have multiple worldviews because of different backgrounds. Here we can invite the target in watching movies together, outdoor activities and fellowship gatherings that will expose the target to the cultural redemption in the area of recreation and relating to others; (3) Share Christian worldview through stories with the intention of leading the target to be opened to another perspective like what Jesus did in teaching the people. He used stories and parables to surface the status of the hearts of the people and lead them to the truth; (4) Create a new way of presenting the Gospel base on the entry point. Most probably the targets will be sharing about their favorite movies, online activities, school, family and relationships. I will start sharing about creation, fall or redemption or it can be redemption first, I will just explain why we need redemption; (5) Lead the target to receive Christ as per the leading of the Holy Spirit; (6) Disciple the new believer.

Like what I have mentioned at the beginning of this paper, youth discipleship is very challenging because cultural worldview is permeated in their lives but it’s different because their worldview is extremely influenced by media technologies which resulted to a variety or sometimes conflicting worldviews. Therefore, they have the tendency of adhering to a mix of worldviews. They are so entangled with the negative effects of information and communication technologies. They can no longer stop using technology because it’s already part of their breathing. As Christian leaders and mentors, we need to work together in discipling the younger generation by moving them to have a biblically based worldview so that they will reproduce generations who are strongly established in the truth. We need to help them to utilize the benefits of using the advancement of media technology in their lives as it intended to be as part of God’s cultural mandate instead of it to ruling over them and eventually destroy them. Integrating Christian worldview in all aspects of my life brings me revival structurally and directionally. I had paradigm shift having new worldview perspective and my loves had been recalibrated towards God and in the process of habituating through a new way of how I spend my life every day by consciously involving God in everything that I do. My goal is to be fully satisfied with my Creator and my desires and longings are adjusted and aligned to His. As the Scripture says, So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). For in Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). From this revival and restoration that I have experienced, I gained my momentum in my passion to disciple people and pioneer small groups. Just to give you a short background of my ministries, I am handling discipleship department in our church for more than five years because of my passion to disciple and build people. I also pioneer small groups and sent to revive dying small groups because I can easily grow a group. That’s why I experienced leading different affinity groups singles, single parents and couples despite my status of being single. Currently, I am overseeing the Youth Group for two years now and to be honest, as I already mentioned it, this is the most challenging group. And somehow, I lost my momentum in pursuing my passion because I am having hard time breaking through in discipling them. Though there are other factors but discipling them matters a lot. But then as I learned how cultural worldview affects people’s lives, I realized the urgency of discipling this young generation. Wayne Cordiero said, You can teach what know but you can only reproduce what you are (Cordiero n.d.). Considering the factors stated above, the following steps will be helpful in discipling the youth group. (1) Analyzing their worldviews through their stories, family, cultures and beliefs and most importantly profile them through their social media accounts. Take some time to read their posts and comments. Make some online investigation about them to know their hearts and thoughts through their shout out posts. This is helpful to avoid snapshot understanding of a person’s perspective about creation and God. This approach will result to proper handling of youngster with different backgrounds “culture and faith commitments. We will also know the right approach in dealing with their concerns in all aspects of their lives. Praise God because in the past few weeks when I started to apply these principles, I was able to breakthrough in reaching out to them especially to few homosexuals in the group. My prayer is that, I will continue to depend on the council of the Holy Spirit and God’s apportioned grace for me to disciple them. That my heart for them will be totally aligned to God’s heart towards them. (2) Train youth leaders to disciple others based on the new perspective of discipleship that is incorporating worldview and discerning structure and direction. Every disciple of Christ is commanded to go and make disciples. As redeemed children of God, we are vessels of His redemptive plan to all mankind and all His creation. We take part to the reformation of what was deformed by sin. It is the restoration of the creational goodness in its original structure and direction. It is accomplished through the restoration of creation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a process of progressive inner renewal in every phase of human life in all aspects (Wolters 2005). We will disciple the younger generation by leading them to make an effort toward the progressive removal of the effects of sin in their lives through sanctification. Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23). It is the word of God that will sanctify us through and through (John 17:17).

One of the common negative effect of communication technology and considered critical is the space-time discrepancy. This means that using digital media seems to disorient users in terms of perceived time and space (place). As if time stands still for the users and it seems that there’s a oneness of the users and technology (Loubser 2012). Addiction to digital media is becoming a slave to it. You are what you love (Smith 2016). That’s why the social skills of the young people are not developed. They often preferred to be alone and spend time with their online community. Some of the practical thing to do regarding this is educating them about the benefits of using technologies in their studies and research, improvement of arts and entertainment and maintaining communication to family members staying in other places.

There are four reasons why we need to share Christian worldview, according to the article, Sharing an integral Christian worldview with a younger generation: Why and how it should be done and received? (1) Christian worldview should be regarded as a gift because one owns it. God gives the revelation therefore one has obligation to share it with everyone. (2) Christian worldview is a prophetic worldview. God does not want us to serve Him only in the offices of priests and kings but also as prophets. There should be professors, proclaimers and witnesses. (3) Christian worldview must be shared out of love for the receivers “for the younger generation. We should share not just by imparting information but possessing what we are sharing in a deeper and richer way. (4) Christian worldview needs to be shared to the younger generation to the next generation because of the inseparability of past, present and future in the history of man. (Walt 2017) Discipleship is also an effective tool to overcome the effect of dualism in the younger generation. One example of dualism is their mindset of doing church ministries because somehow it became the basis of their spiritual health but neglecting other spheres of their lives like their studies, relationship in the family, entering into a romantic relationship, other daily activities and of course the use information and communication technologies. Cultural mandate is ignored because there is an imbalance in the areas of their lives. They focus only to the spiritual aspect which is represented by their services in the church. There is a great divide to the things that they thought as sacred and secular. Salvation in Jesus Christ is conceived in the broad creational sense which means a restoration of culture and society not only in the spiritual side. To overcome this, I will integrate the teaching about redemption to my discipleship lessons weekly. The redemption teaching is not only about salvation but the redemption of all creations “salvation of humanity and redemption of cultural spheres. Being reconciled to God, to others and all creations. Albert Wolters quoted in his book, Creation Regained, Redemption is the recovery of creational goodness through the annulment of sin and the effort toward the progressive removal of its effects everywhere. To make this possible, I will train them to practice involving Christ daily in all their activities during the day. The purpose is to make Christ the center of their lives. The illustration of the wheel pop up in my mind regarding this. The hub represents Christ and the spokes represent all areas of our lives “spiritual well-being, ministries, family, marriage, recreation, career, studies, finances and personal development. In conclusion, youth discipleship is an integral part of reforming the worldview of the younger generation (which is extremely influenced by the fast pace advancement of information and communication technologies) to Christian worldview. If Christian worldview will not be shared the next generation will suffer and continue to have a distorted worldview. Jesus Christ died on the cross so that whatever is deformed by sin in the past will be reformed. Discipleship plays an important role in aligning the desires and longings of younger generation directly towards their Creator.

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