We need adults to lead the youth of today. I, personally, cannot take each of them under my wing and shelter them from every little thing they don't like. It's a physical impossibility. Quite frankly, I want them to learn to step up and get stuff done whether they "like" it or not. They need to realize this world isn't about them, that it's all God's... it's all His. And the adults (you, me, whoever) need to step up and take an interest in teaching youth how to function in the world while they're here, but to not be like the world. Many of them are very mature in their faith, but they're also very immature as a result of the society they are growing up in.
What do I mean by that? Well, they know the Bible in their head, and some of it has even gotten into their heart, but for the most part it's just recited mantras that will turn people off to the gospel. It's up to us, the adults, to lead them to be leaders. There are natural born leaders out there, sure, but they still need to learn how to lead effectively. Again, this is where the adults have to step it up.
If we want the youth to lead, then we must help facilitate their growth in leadership. This is where the discipleship comes in... you could even call it mentoring. We can't just throw them to the wolves. We can't just say, "Hey you... Go lead!" I take that back... We can, but it will only be detrimental. We (adults) need to come up with a training program, of sorts, so these youth can truly grow not only in Christ, but as a people! Youth today are cliquey. Cliquey people tend to be that way because they don't have direction; they don't have direction because an option isn't supplied to them to do something different; and if it is they're not going to take the initiative to get off their butt and do it unless something, or someone, makes them. Today's youth are not a generation who is outgoing and paving their own way. They prefer to be safe, stick to things they are comfortable with, and bail on anything that is not that way. They operate behind the scenes, prefer to stick to themselves, trust VERY FEW people (and the ones they do trust only earn that trust sometimes after years of trying), and they are extremely unwilling to try something "new" if they're not sure of the outcome. This is the breaking point. This is where their mentors come in.
Mentors have to encourage them and keep pushing them to grow. I'm truly afraid that this generation, in the low-touch society we live in (see MySpace, Facebook, Plaxo, etc) is going to end up a bunch of hermits who live by themselves, who possibly "find love" on places like Match.com (or worse), and that they are not going to know how to interact with people. And the worst part? It's not their fault... it's ours. Look at the parents! Most youth today don't have a stable home life, they have multiple people who are supposed to be father/mother figures in their life but usually do a pretty crummy job, they don't have to work because their parents give them whatever they want (because when they were a child they didn't get everything they wanted so they now vow to give their spoiled brats whatever their little wanter wants), and then they come to church and hear about the things of God and they can't even imagine a love like that!
They need coaching in life because their parents are so stinkin' caught up in themselves that they have almost no time to think about their kids... except to buy them something. I'm not saying this is the case with every youth out there, but this is the culture and society that they are living in... whether we like it or not, that's the way it is.
So c'mon adults! Get over yourself and mentor someone younger than you! Who cares if you think you can't do it, or think you're not "mature" enough to do it. These kids don't need some deep spiritual philosophy shoved down their throat, but they do need to be shown the love of Christ. They do need to be shown what it means to live in the world while still living out their Christian faith. So many of them have such unstable family lives, or lack thereof, that they don't even know how they're supposed to interact with other people. The "father" figure comes home drunk, cussing and swearing up a storm, maybe even hits the wife or girlfriend, or worse, hits the child, and that's what the youth thinks is normal... this is what he/she knows, so it has to be normal. Right? Or what about the mother who has custody of the kids, speaks beyond poorly about their father, has a new boyfriend every month, might even be addicted to drugs or painkillers, and the youth begin to think that's normal too? These are real scenarios of people I know, and youth that I know, and it's heartbreaking... yes... but what are we going to do about it? Are we just going to sit here and do nothing? Allow these atrocities to continue?
How about get off your butt and see if that kid is looking for a friend? How about take that child under your wing and show them the love of Christ? How about get involved in their life and maybe even their parents' lives? Make a difference Christian! You're sitting there with the greatest gift that could ever be given to you, and it's available for everyone else too... FOR FREE!! Get out there and share this stuff!!!