Issue Group 23: Reaching the Youth Generation

Youth (aged 18 to 29) need to be reached with the gospel and to be effectively discipled.

How can we reach the youth generation with the gospel of Jesus Christ in a way that is relevant to them? That is the question the over 50 participants of IG23 will be trying to answer at the Forum. IG participants come from many different backgrounds: youth pastors from the United States; evangelists from Europe; church planters from Africa; lay ministers from the Indian sub-continent; university workers from the Balkans and many others. Their diversity is reflected not only in their cultural background but also in the questions and insights they bring to the pre-congress discussion.

Tobias from Southern Germany says some descriptions of today’s youth seem to contradict each other, but are typical for the youth culture in Germany. Young people, he says, are looking at the future in a positive way, don’t want to miss anything, are fixed on today, open for new things, religious in a pluralistic way, materialistic, dream of their own little well-functioning family, egoistic and have no trust and no interest in politics and institutions. Patrick Mba from Cameroon says young people in his country are more interested in the items prized in developed countries which are like a model to them. They listen to and dance to hip hop, R & B, discuss pop stars they watch on cable TV or wear the latest denim jeans because that is being “in.” However, they are African at the same time. Asher Bhatti from the sub-continent wrote that young people in his homeland think that they understand life totally in a short period. They show through body language, styles and way of talking that they have everything in the life and then find their own way of spending life. They don’t give attention to their elders’ advice or church elders or activities.

Presently there are more questions than answers, questions we are trying to answer across the continents and denominations as we prepare for meeting face to face. Questions such as:

  • Is there a specific youth culture in your country/area of service?
  • If yes, what are the cultural marks of the youth culture? (fashion, music, language, lifestyle etc.?)
  • In what way does it differ from the culture of the adult generation?
  • In what way do these youth cultures represent a different way of thinking, feeling or experiencing life?
  • What do you see as the inner dimension of the youth culture?
  • What are the main questions concerning life and meaning that young people have?
  • How do you see the church responding to the youth generation?
  • How must we/the church change to move forward in an evangelistically relevant way to reach young people with the gospel?

The expected outcomes of the work done on this issue were:

  1. Best case examples of how to reach various categories of youth such as the unemployed, ethnic minorities (often immigrant communities) and the educated but anti religious.
  2. Discipling is so essential and ways of doing this need to be provided.


Roland Werner

Lucas Leys

Andy Goodacre, UK

Read the Lausanne Occasional Paper (LOP) produced by this Issue Group:

LOP 52: The 12/25 Challenge: Reaching the Youth Generation (.pdf format; 414 KB)