That is what this generation is saying to the leadership in our country. These young people have stood up because they saw 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High High in Parkland, Florida High killed. As this week as progressed on every news outlet we again saw the pictures and video of students streaming out of their high school. We have heard the horror stories of students from inside the school. The signs missed by the FBI or even how the perpetrator escaped with other students running out of the school.
In just matter hours after leaving the school, students began to come together. Student leaders stepped up like Jacklyn, a seventeen-year-old who was heading up the students charge to go the Florida State House said, “We are leading the charge for change.” It only took student leaders pulling together, 48 hours to organize a rally with 100’s of students at the Statehouse in Tallahassee, Florida and to get students on a bus to go to the Whitehouse. Wow! You saying that Students did all that in that short amount of time?
There have been many students interviewed, but it was the interview with Alex Wind, one of the organizers who said,
“We need to take a stance. Since we have the limelight on because of this tragedy. We have to seize that opportunity so we can assure there is going to be changed in the future. Now it stops! Never again will this happen in the country or any other country for that matter. We are the future. We are the ones that are going to make the change. You know, If Congress or the state or anyone doesn’t want to do anything, you know what, we’re going to do it.”
That statement reminded me of an event that we had in the 1990’s at River Rush. The in that video it students talked about their generation. But the statement rang in my ear was a message sent to the Church and to youth leaders. It was simply this, “If you don’t lead, we will.” That is the same tone that is coming out of Parkland students.
In the spring of 2008, Allies had an outreach event called, GO M.A.D. (Go Make A Difference) at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul, Minnesota. The speaker was a young man named Ben Strong. He was the student leader (preacher’s kid) of the prayer group at his school a student shot into their group on December 1, 1997, where he killed three young ladies and injured another 5 students. At the event, he shared his story with 3500 students and challenged 3500 students to Go Make A Difference in their school and world.
You would think that after a series of school shootings that there would be change. But we all have etched into our memory April 20, 1990, the pictures of Columbine Massacre. The minds behind this school shooting were, two seniors, who killed 12 students and 1 teacher, and injured 21 others, and even shot 3 more as they attempted to escape for school. You would have thought just maybe enough was enough.
But do you realize the 21st Century student has lived in what is called the “Columbine Generation”? It is estimated that there have been over 200 school shootings since that day. Do you remember what we used to fear and have drills for? Well, today’s students it isn’t the fear of polio or fear of a nuclear attack. It is the fear of dying from a shot of a rifle.
We saw students running out of school and jumping out of windows. There were many stories that came out of yet another school shooting. Many were very sad and greatly affected many families forever. But one of those stories, of Rachel Scott, the first young lady shot outside of the school talking to a fellow classmate who just wanted to talk about his life. Her story has impacted, inspired, and challenged the lives of millions. Through her writings, a school assembly program called, “Rachel’s Promise” and the movie, that was in movie theaters last year called, “I’m Not Ashamed”.
If you have followed my writings, you understand that for years I have been saying, “America’s Greatest Mission Field is the middle, junior, and senior high schools.” Now the mission field is not just a school, but has become a “War Zone”! Both in the natural and the spiritual.
I have been in the youth ministry world for a very long time. Honestly, I have truly seen a lot of stuff happen in society and in the church. As you know and understand, in both areas of life there have been enormous changes.
When the students organize to get to the state capitol and the Whitehouse to bring their concerns and to say, #NeverAgain. Because of what has happened and a few students leaders who stepped up, I believe that we are going to see change. This really came to a head and there has to be a change.
So, here is my question to the Church and leadership in our churches!
Do we too need to make some changes? Just how seriously have we take the youth in our church. For the most part, I have observed youth in church leadership as an insider, pastoral positions, and as a leader in the church as an outside leader without the title. I have seen and experienced a lot over my the past six decades in the Church world.
The older I have become the more I have seen just how important the younger generation is to a church. For my entire ministry life (four decades) I have been involved in ministry to youth. It is not just something that I have done, but it has been my passion. I love to see young people develop in all areas of their lives and grow up to be great leaders.
I remember the very first video that I made for Allies Ministries, in 1990, We decided to shoot it outside of the high school that I graduated at Anoka. As I sat by the Anoka High School sign, I said something like this, “This is my high school. I graduated from here in 1974. And this is America’s Greatest Mission Field. I walked these hallways, just like you did in your school. Just like every CEO, salesperson, athlete, CEO, lawyer, pastor, mayors, school teacher, administrator, every person who sits in a boardroom, is a representative in a city office, state house, congressperson, senators, or even the President of the United States.”
Just think if we in the Church really believed this what could happen!
- Students – go to school and make Christ the catalyst in their lives and schools.
- Adults – pray for, pour into, and provide the needed resources
- Youth Workers – equip and release student to go into their world and make a difference
Young people are making a difference. Every day thousands of students are making a difference as they tell their story of faith to people in their world. They are the Church’s missionaries on America’s Great Mission Field. Let’s pray for, pour into them, and support them as they make their mark in their world and the Church.