The Merchants of Cool

Our culture has this generation wrapped around its slick marketing ploy. They have created CONSUMERS out of teenagers who are the target of almost every marketing campaign for almost every Fortune 500 company. The problem with this is that God has created us to be PRODUCERS and not consumers. 

The marketing community and the advertising gurus in America have become 'The Merchants of Cool'. Spend millions of dollars to find out what is cool and shape our product success through this data. Because the teenage population in America is about 30 million and commands over 150 billion dollars in disposable income, they are exposed to over 3000 advertising messages in an average day. However, in contrast to adults, teens respond to 'cool' much simpler and faster. And because of this, whatever the trend-setters and merchants say is relevant becomes the newest need of the moment. And ultimately profit for the merchants. This present pre-teen and young adult generation (labeled the ‘generation y’ or the 'Millenia's') has become the target of the 'Merchants of Cool’ for 150 billion reasons.

And with this capitol, comes great responsibility. I am praying for the greatest impact on our teen and young adult generation in the coming window of 2013-2019. We are entering 7 years of what can be called "The Teen Decade". And youth leaders across denominations and in marketplace and ministry settings have a significant role to play. We cannot underestimate the plan that God has to for this generation to reach this planet. His plan has always included young people. I have learned in almost 30 years of ministry that it takes ALL KINDS OF PEOPLE TO REACH ALL KINDS OF PEOPLE. And that means you. The Kingdom of God is not a ‘one size fits all’ operation. Every one of us has a place. But, we need a reformation. Look at the signs:

-2/3 of teens will leave their faith after high school. Why? 87% of the college kids surveyed said it was their friends who led them away from the church.

-Just this week, MSNBC boasted that Christian University’s policies of abstinence and “Sex outside of marriage” as wrong is “not a very fun” experience for college students

-Although 8 out of 10 teens say they are Christian, only 2 out of 10 also claim to be “absolutely committed to the Christian faith”

-Only 50% of Christian teens read their bible once a week

What can the church do about it? Let me challenge youth leaders of every sector in society with two responsibilities:

The first responsibility is that we pray for the assistance of the Holy Spirit.
We have tried so many things that have failed to jump-start this generation in the past. Education, entertainment/media, and even the church have had a life-cycle and seemingly fizzled. There has been one consistent influence upon history. The work of the Holy Spirit and His gifts upon young people. Without the gifts we lose the one power Christ bestowed upon all believers. Throughout history the Holy Spirit's influence has been evident in the lives of young people such as David, Esther, Jesus, Peter, and Saul/Paul. Maybe no greater illustration of the power of the Holy Spirit to bring transformation and power upon a person's life is seen than in the examples we see in each of these people. And you and I need the same work. If these iconic leaders in the Bible needed the power of the Spirit upon them, then each of us definitely do also.

The second responsibility is that we become PRODUCERS and not merely CONSUMERS.

We must help to change the mindset of this generation from being the target into being the arrow. To shape the young people of the 21st century to become creators and not merely spectators. A look at the condition of young people in America is revealing and proves the great need of a work of the Holy Spirit upon them. The change from consumer to producer should be an easy one. I'm not sure that there has ever been a time when young people could have a revolutionary impact upon our nation and the world.

Because of the social media age, the political unrest across the planet, the disintegration of the family, and the lack of spiritual passion, the vacuum is great. For this generation to step up now would be reformational. We need young people to step up. It doesn’t matter if you are a gym rat, brainiac, skater/alternative, rocker, shopper, PK, or whatev. God has a plan for their lives. And that requires that youth leaders across our nation take our roles seriously.  

What can the church do? We must teach our youth to have a relationship with the Spirit. That there are gifts to help us become the PRODUCERS God desires us to be. David wasn’t afraid in front of giants, Esther wasn’t afraid of Kings, Jesus wasn’t afraid of man and surrendered to God’s plan, Peter overcame fear, and Paul overcame his past. Each of these through the power of the Holy Spirit. Now, more than ever, we need a movement of the Holy Spirit.