USA Today ran an article a couple of weeks ago calling the spirituality of young adults "wide, shallow, and compelling". This generation is more eclectic and more skeptical than previous ones. But they do have an interest in engaging Scripture (as one of many interests) and a desire to get involved with the world and to find ways to help people who are struggling.
Gabe Lyons, one of the authors of the excellent book unChristian, has a new book (released today) called The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America. Though I haven't had a chance to read it (I'm hoping to score a copy at the Catalyst Conference this week), this interview that he did on Ed Stetzer's blog is very interesting. Here is some of what he says about the next generation of Christians:
"Instead of discovering something new, they've actually recovered a key understanding of the Gospel that has largely gone missing in many parts of Christian teaching and doctrine in the last century--the idea of "restoration." They believe that part of their responsibility in following Jesus is to lead lives that are prioritized around restoring broken people, systems, schools, neighborhoods, marriages and a variety of other things to reflect God's original intention for his creation. They emphasize seeing the image of God in every person they encounter, even if that person wouldn't acknowledge it. They don't only care about social good, but see that as part of a holistic faith that naturally opens the door to much deeper conversations with their friends about the meaning of life, who we are as human beings and what God's best is for his creations."
Both pieces bring home the point that we need to find ways to engage students - both believers and unbelievers - in the places where Scriptures intersect our world. So many students arrive on a campus with a compartmentalized faith (it only applies to what they do on a Sunday or at a Bible study) and an overly personalized faith (it is only about "Jesus and me" and the Gospel is solely about me getting to heaven). Unfortunately, much of our programming in churches and campus ministries just adds to the problem. Young adults need to see that the Gospel affects all parts of our world and that God is in the process of reconciling all things to himself (Colossians 1:15-20). This will help those who are not yet Christians realize that following Jesus is much more than religious ritual. When you submit yourself to him and begin to follow him, he will involve you in this mission and purpose of reconciliation. It will also help those who are Christians to realize that our understanding of the Gospel has often been far too limited. This process of reconciliation has implications beyond what happens when I die. It affects how I live and how I engage with a hurting world.