Acceptance and Empathy: Understanding the Unique Challenges Young People Face in the Church
A Journey of Acceptance: A Conversation with Ryan Mitchell
I had the privilege of welcoming Ryan Mitchell, a young leader from North Lawndale, to our show. Our conversation was a deep dive into Ryan’s faith journey, the challenges he faced growing up in the church, and his experiences in the world.
Growing Up in Faith
Ryan, a North Lawndale resident for 20 years, shared his experiences growing up in the church. His faith was instilled in him by his grandparents and mother, and he was actively involved in church activities. However, his faith journey was not without its challenges. As he grew older, he found himself leaning more towards the ways of the world and seeking validation from his peers.
A recent situation reaffirmed his belief in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. He realized that only God could bring him out of it. We discussed the importance of a personal relationship with Christ and the moments when one’s faith is tested and stretched. We also touched on the allure of the world and the need to find fulfillment in God rather than seeking validation from others.
The Struggle for Fulfillment
Ryan reflected on his past experiences and how he sought fulfillment in things like laughter and worldly pursuits. However, he found that they never truly satisfied him. It was only when he trusted in Christ and made Him the head of his life that he felt complete and fulfilled.
I asked Ryan if he ever felt like he was repressing something or pushing down feelings of knowing he shouldn’t be in certain places. He confirmed that there were times when he knew right from wrong, but he was pulling away from his faith and repressing the values and beliefs instilled in him through Christ.
The Challenges of Faith for the Young Generation
We moved on to discuss the number one challenge his generation faces regarding faith and God. Ryan emphasized the importance of knowing who God is for oneself and not just relying on what others say or think about Him. He believes that to truly understand oneself, one must first know who God is.
Many of his peers have experienced church hurt, feeling rejected or unheard by the church. He mentioned the age gap between the leaders and the younger generation, and how this can lead to a lack of understanding and a feeling of being unwelcome.
The Importance of Inclusivity in the Church
Ryan talked about the importance of inclusivity in the church and how not everyone feels welcome. He mentioned that there is a lot of judgment and selectivity around who is allowed to participate in certain activities or roles within the church. He believes that everyone should feel welcome in God’s house, regardless of their background or appearance.
Understanding the Struggles of Young People
I asked Ryan to help the listeners understand the struggles and challenges that young people from the West Side of Chicago face. He explained that high school can be a trying time, with many students experiencing identity crises and encountering people from different ethnicities for the first time.
He described a typical day in the life of a 16-year-old, starting with checking his phone to stay updated on the latest trends and fashion. He emphasized the importance of being in the know and wanting to fit in with his peers.
Bridging the Generation Gap
We discussed the importance of adults understanding and giving young people a chance. Ryan emphasized the need for adults to ask questions and have conversations with young people to gain understanding. He suggests that adults should not give up on young people but instead allow relationships to develop over time.
We also touched on the concept of “church hurt” and how some young people may have negative experiences with the church, leading to a lack of desire to engage with it. The conversation highlighted the importance of adults being open-minded, empathetic, and willing to bridge the generation gap to support and guide young people in their faith journeys.
Connecting with Young People
We discussed the importance of connecting with young people and helping them understand what it means to live for the Lord. Ryan suggests that instead of trying to change them in one conversation, it’s important to walk alongside them, love them, and let God do the rest of the work.
When it comes to talking to peers about God, Ryan encourages trusting in God and not relying solely on one’s own understanding. He believes that young people need a space where they can lead and lean on their peers, rather than always relying on older generations.
Ryan’s Endeavors and Final Thoughts
Towards the end of the conversation, Ryan shared his Instagram handle and promoted his clothing line, I AM Apparel, a faith-based organization. He also mentioned his involvement in investment opportunities.
I concluded the episode by sharing a story about fear and the importance of surrendering to Christ without letting fear hold us back. I encouraged young people to let go of fear and surrender their lives to God.
In conclusion, our conversation with Ryan Brown highlighted the importance of understanding and supporting the faith journeys of young people. It emphasized the need for inclusivity in the church, bridging the generation gap, and creating a space where young people can lead and lean on their peers. Tap in with Ryan on Instagram, check out his clothing line and his YouTube!
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Faith journey and upbringing [00:03:04] Ryan shares about his faith being instilled by his grandparents and challenges faced growing up in the church.
Challenges to personal faith [00:05:16] Ryan discusses the challenges of understanding his personal relationship with Christ and the temptation to lean into the ways of the world.
Loss of faith and seeking validation [00:08:07] Ryan talks about his faith growing weak and seeking validation from the world instead of leaning on God.
The challenges of seeking fulfillment [00:11:08] Ryan discusses his past experiences of seeking fulfillment outside of his faith and how it never brought him satisfaction.
Repressing values and beliefs [00:11:40] Pastor Phil and Ryan discuss the feeling of repressing their faith and values while engaging in activities they knew were wrong.
Church hurt and lack of understanding [00:12:59] Ryan talks about how many of his peers have experienced church hurt and feel that the church is not welcoming or understanding towards the younger generation.
The struggle for inclusivity in the church [00:20:46] Discussion on the lack of inclusivity in churches and the challenges faced by young people in feeling welcome.
Understanding the generational gap [00:21:49] Exploration of the differences between older and younger generations in terms of values, behavior, and societal norms.
The identity crisis of young people [00:23:48] Insight into the daily life of a high school student, including the search for identity and acceptance among peers.
The discomfort of judgment [00:30:54] Discussion on how judgment and discomfort can lead to clashes and rebelliousness among different generations.
Alternative proms [00:34:50] Exploration of how churches can create safe spaces and alternatives to traditional proms for young people.
Understanding and giving chances [00:36:18] Encouragement for adults to try to understand and connect with young people, and to give them a chance to express themselves and be understood.
The dynamics of connecting with young people [00:40:59] Discussion on the importance of understanding and connecting with young people, and the challenges of trying to change them in one speech.
Living for the Lord [00:42:44] Encouragement to young people to trust God, lean on Him, and live for a higher purpose.
Creating a space for young people in the church [00:45:58] Suggestion to create a vibrant, youth-led space in the church where young people can lean on their peers and experience authentic faith.
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