There was a time, when our world was full of hope for what was ahead. We were on the cusp of a new age. An age of innovation, brought about by cutting edge technology. All of our problems were being solved bit by bit in bytes and mega-bytes. Work times were cut in half, communication became easier. Connection with the world became accessible through the quick click of the mouse.
It is true that technology has changed our modern lives. Today, more than 7 in 10 Millennials (in the 18-29 age group), when polled, said that technology like I-Phones and Blackberrys are a change in society for the better. The majority of them also say that technology makes life, better, easier and makes for better connection with friends and family.1 And, according to Barna Research, it has even changed the way that Millennials practice their faith. Seventy percent of those practicing Christianity say they read scripture on a cell phone or internet.2
However, technology may not be the one great answer some thought it would be. More of this age group says they have been diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorders.3 And, though they are more connected by technology than any other generation before them, they still struggle with loneliness. More than any other generation, 90% of Millenials say that they are looking for resources to help them live a more meaningful life.4
No, technology is not the answer. Jesus is still the answer. And this huge generation called the Millenials, is searching, online, on their phones, and in relationships for meaning. Will we help them find Him? In John 4:35, Jesus says, "I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest." Those words are still true. Technology and all that it has to offer can never bring true meaning to a life, but Jesus can.
Students have unprecedented access to information, but they need someone to help them process that information. In a world where most people surf and scan content, it's important to help students see the value in reading thoroughly and critiquing content. Facebook isn't a great source for news, or for deep spiritual truth. How do they know the source that they are reading is credible? We can help them filter and interpret what they are taking in.
Jesus was great at meeting people where they were. This generation of students wants to know the truth, but we may need to deliver it in different ways than before. Students ask questions in "Google" format, and instead, we often give them vague and indirect answers. They are looking for straight forward truths that have real implications for their lives. We should trust the power of the Gospel enough to give them those answers. As Paul says in Romans 1:16, " for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes." That can stand up to whatever Google has to offer any day of the week.
Dave Kinnaman's article, How Technology is Changing Millennial Faith, is worth the read. He does a great job summarizing the implications of the use of technology in the church. Find it here.
1Pew Research Center Study, Millennials: A Portrait of Generation Next, 2010
2Barna.org, How Technology is Changing Millennial Faith, 2013.
32012 online Stress in America survey of 2,020 U.S. adults 18 and older by Harris Interactive for American Psychological Association, Janet Loehrke and Julie Snider, USA TODAY.
4Barna.org, 3 Trends Redefining the Information Age, 2013.