It’s another school year! Summer has flown by, trips to the beach have passed, and the sun tans will soon fade. I can’t believe it’s another school year, but I just might be more excited about this year than any other! For those of you new to the blog you can expect a post once a month and it’s usually on the 10th of the month. However, I have intentionally postponed my blog post this month because I wanted to wait until I addressed the 7th-12th graders in chapel.
On Wednesday I got up in front of our secondary students and addressed an issue that I have been convicted of in recent months. As many of you know, I have been involved in some significant research involving millennials and generation Z. If you have a child in K-12th grade you better get to know GenZ, because they are living with you. It’s a great group of kids, but there is something I felt I needed to apologize for and I suspect you might need to as well…
Let me explain through a quick history lesson.
In the 1930’s things started to shift significantly for the American youth, specifically toward lower expectations and less responsibility. In her book How to Raise an Adult , Dr. Julie Lythcott-Haims uses an anecdotal illustration of this. She highlights, most parenting articles in the 1930’s, 40’s, and 50’s discussed chores for “teenagers,” but the concept of chores nearly dropped out of the parenting magazines in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. While they did surface again in the 90’s the expectations were significantly different than the 30’s. This is just one simple anecdote to express the culture change when it comes to child development in our country.
Many of the protections for kids have been good, but we threw the baby out with the bathwater when our culture adopted its current view of adolescence. My concern as of late is that this has seeped into our churches, schools, and Christian families with our spiritual formation efforts. As a whole, we have not created a culture of empowerment among the emerging generations. Statistically, we missed the boat with the millennial generation, but it’s not too late for GenZ. We can make some changes, but we need to be swift.
So, in our 2018-2019 opening chapel I used the words “I’m Sorry.” My apology was filled with sincerity, but it was also filled with humility because we should have known better. I’m sorry for not leading with this in mind and creating a better culture that empowered our children.
And the entire generation deserves these three things!
This summer at the Contribute Conference we recognized a group of girls from Tennessee as Contributors of the Year. This group of high school juniors identified a specific issue and leaped into action. They realized that girls from third-world countries miss an average of 84 days of school because they lack feminine hygiene supplies. So, these girls got together and formed a plan, raised money, and have impacted 700 girls in Nicaragua and 1,200 women in Uganda. Now, that’s empowerment!
This year we are taking a proactive approach to cultivating contributors through a culture of empowerment. We are asking our elementary students to take on initiatives both on and off campus where they can bless others. Our elementary teachers are finding creative ways to recognize and develop contribution within each student.
Our secondary students will be engaging in the 17 Global Goals. In 2015, 193 Nations came together and agreed upon 17 Global Goals that should be completed by 2030. Our students will participate in the Contribution Challenge where they will identify a problem within one of the goals, create a project, and implement it. The top three projects will receive cash prizes (that we hope will be used to further their project).
This is our aim and we invite you to be part of the solution. The apology has been offered and now it’s time to get to work. This year let us all focus on being intentional with our youth. Let’s not only hold them to higher standards, but let's put a support network in place that empowers and equips them to do amazing things. Our American culture says they need to wait until they are older, but our OCA culture is saying, “Do it now!”
Feel free to start listening to the Contribute Podcast, sponsored by OCA! You can find it in the podcast store under Contribute, or follow one of these links:
Contribute Podcast (iTunes Store)
Contribute Podcast (Podbean)
Let us hear your contributor story. Periodically, we enjoy offering contributor spotlights and would love to spotlight you or someone you know. Who is making a difference? What children do you know contributing to society in big ways? Let us know through the contact page, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a comment below.