Understanding the Global Youth Culture (GYC) in Africa
Last year, OneHope released the Global Youth Culture (GYC) research. This research was aimed at understanding the habits, struggles, beliefs and influences of teenagers within the most connected generation in order to minister to the next generation more effectively. The research was conducted across 20 countries including Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa.
Pastor Julius Rwotlonyo, one of the 4/14 Africa leaders who also serves as Associate Team Leader at Watoto Church who recently shared on last month’s Easter blog, shared a few thoughts on the GYC Report. He shared very passionately on how we can maximize the new information we have in our hands to reach this generation of teens for Christ.
While are thankful to God that we are seeing more churches continue to preach the gospel and give opportunities to teenagers in Africa, we still have some more work to do in reaching children and youth.
The report is divided into Religious Attitudes and Behaviours, Influences and Guiding Voices, Personal Experiences and Struggles, Digital Connectedness and Impact, and Identity and Relationships. Here’s a look at Ps. Julius’ thoughts on three of these sections:
1.Religious Attitudes and Behaviours
In comparison to other countries, the GYC report indicates that Africa is doing better in comparison to other continents. However, as a young continent with only 28% of teens are committed Christians shows we are not doing well. Christian teens in Africa reported praying and attending church regularly. However, fewer than half are reading their Bibles at least weekly in contrast, Muslim teens in Africa
We still have the freedom in Africa to see the gospel preached in schools and gatherings. But the failure of the church to embrace the burden for reaching youth and children is hampering the opportunity we have. Is the church ready to be creative and innovative and invest in the young people?
“I feel how Jesus felt when he looked at the crowd and felt they were harassed and like sheep without a shepherd when looking at our teens.” — Ps. Julius
We still have a great opportunity to reach teens who are looking for meaning in life as the laws and regulations of many African countries are not strict and we are not blocked from accessing the schools. Though continentally we may see troubles in schools, this is a sign of troubled teens who are ready for harvest. Teachers in schools are not prepared to handle the kind of social dynamics the kids are experiencing and the church should take this opportunity.
In the previous era Africa was blessed to have missionaries from around the world bring the gospel, but right now, these statistics reveal that Africa is growing in Christianity more than other continents and so it’s Africa’s day — it’s time to rise and shine and disciple the rest of the world . God has put his spotlight on Africa! We need to disciple our teens in their faith and send them to go and disciple the rest of the world.
2. Influences and Guiding Voices
According to the research, teens reported that family is their go to for guidance on some of life’s most important topics including the meaning of life and what is right and wrong. With the primary discipleship of youth lying within the family, the question we continuously need to ask ourselves is, what is the state of the family in Africa, healthy or broken? Are parents being discipled enough to be entrusted with the discipling of their children? Can what is broken be able to address the broken and confusion in teens?
Churches need to continue to find how to strengthen families to disciple their children. Where family has been broken is where church comes in. Where it can’t be healed for whatever reason, the church becomes family, father/ mother figures and spiritual mentors.
3. Personal Experiences and Struggles
There has been an increase in struggles relating to mental health, sexual activity, pornography, alcohol and drug usage among teens in Africa. The media has had an amplified voice in the lives of young people and a larger role in discipling teenagers — for both better and worse. The images of what success looks like as portrayed on media has a major impact and has also led to the glorification of behavior that is destructive and opposite of what the Bible says. With increased secularism, what we once viewed as taboo in a previous generation is now promoted as cool in a different generation. We are also seeing more young people battling emptiness, confusion, suicidal thoughts and loneliness as they try to keep up with culture.
The only world view that will build society and lives on a firm foundation is the biblical world view. The gospel still continues to be the only message that can transform the hearts of people and bring meaning to life. The church of Jesus Christ will forever be the hope of the world. Let’s do whatever we can as the church to reach the now generation of amazing African children and youth. Romans 1:16, “ For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes”
LETS REACH THEM AS CHILDREN SO THAT WHEN THEY ARE TEENS, THEY HAVE REFERENCE TO THE WORD AND REVERENCE FOR CHRIST!