September 24, 2015—Imagine growing up in a world knowing two presidents: one black and one white. AIDS is treatable, and Arnold Palmer is a blend of lemonade and iced tea. This is the only world today’s sixth-graders have ever known.
Members of the class of 2022 were born into a world that has always had the presence of homeland security. Children have always been soldiers and their stories have been documented by Invisible Children, formed in 2004, the year most of these students were born. Social media has also always been a presence with TheFacebook being born the same time they were. They have never known a time when same sex couples could not be married somewhere in the United States. The year they were born, we began really thinking about brain development when Stauch published The Primal Teen. Daily life’s givens include electric cars and tax forms in English and Spanish. Learning how to cook takes place via the Food Channel and they often cook better than their parents.
Every year as new sixth-graders join our youth group, I wonder what unique experiences they bring with them. I want to remind youth leaders, their parents and even older youth that these sixth-graders have a unique world view based on a particular range of experiences. This became a teaching tool I use every fall after reading The Beloit College Mindset List created by Ron Nief, who takes a look at the entering college class every fall. (www.beloit.edu/mindset )
What these sixth-graders have experienced in their lifetime is radically different from our seniors or even Gen X, Millennials, the Baby Boomers or the Greatest Generation. Every year I wonder if this is the new heaven and new earth that John spoke about in Revelation 21:1-6.
In these verses, God promises a world where everything is made new. Death will be no more, mourning and crying will cease, tears will be wiped away and the brokenness of the world will be made whole.
The world we live in today is not all that God hopes for creation. But if we look carefully, we can glimpse the new creation that God is unfolding before us. Each day ushers us into a calling: to actively choose to be that new world that God intends. The challenge for each of us and all of us is to join in Kingdom living.
So welcome sixth-graders! Join us as we go into the world living, proclaiming and participating in God’s new heaven and new earth for the world to see and to know.
Michelle Thomas-Bush (MDiv ’94), Associate Pastor for Youth and Their Families at Myers Park Presbyterian Church. Michelle is also creator of Big Idea’s in Youth Ministry, www.bigideasym.com.
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