The Loneliest Generation (#721)

Current research is demonstrating that young people between thirteen and twenty-five are the loneliest generation of Americans—perhaps ever! Nearly 40% of them report that at times they have no one to talk to, and regular attendance at a religious gathering has no affect on these numbers whatsoever. Our favorite researcher, Josh Packard of the Springtide Research Institute joins Wayne for this podcast about the great need among youth to connect with a caring adult to help them sort out meaning and belonging in our world. The fields are truly ripe unto harvest. Josh is also the author of Church Refugees published in 2015, and the author of a new report, Belonging: Reconnecting America's Loneliest Generation. How can caring adults come alongside these lonely and isolated people and give them the belonging and care they crave?

Podcast Notes:
Email Josh
Springtide Research Institute
Past Podcasts with Josh
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  1. Wow, this really hits at what I’ve seen and suspected was very wide spread. Also, resonates with my desire to encourage parents to give the gift of LISTENING to their kids and each other! In the church, we as parents tend to have our identity wrapped up in how our kids behave, talk, think, share their opinions etc. especially, when they are different than ours or seem to counter our religious beliefs, Christian “norms of behavior,” idealogy…the list goes on. So we don’t really listen, we hear them briefly then react to what’s coming out of their mouths! We judge, lecture, tell them how they’re wrong etc. Why in the world would they want to talk to us?! We struggled with this for years when our 3 kids were in their teens and early 20’s. It took a lot of reading and letting books like He Loves Me, Can You Hear Me Now? and Keep Your Love On marinate in our hearts and minds. Then we took action to put into practice loving by listening and talking well while allowing the Holy Spirit to anchor our identity in Christ. Some counseling helped, too! Whew, it’s been a journey but so so very worth it!! The healing and restoration we’ve seen I shout from the roof tops to whoever will listen but STILL find that parents/adults think it seems like too much work, too much change. That can be frustrating. I will be sharing these findings of Springtide when they’re released and will contact Josh! Our three kids are now 29, 26 and 25. Two are married and all know they are known by a Father that loves, adores and delights in them for who they are not for what they do. They listen to each other, to their spouses and others. They use their skills of listening, talking and loving in their workplaces and with extended family and friends. One of them worked with youth for several years while she was learning new ways of communicating within our family. Some of those kids whom are older now will share how much they love her and she loved them! We ARE NOT PERFECT in this. We all fail, get triggered, don’t listen well at times but we come back to Jesus, listen for His voice and move as His Spirit moves in and through us. We apologize more and now we often will catch ourselves when we aren’t listening well. Listening and talking well has become part of our DNA and we all revert back, more of the time, to this transformed DNA within us. We seek to lay down our pride in wanting to be “right” and face the hurt when it happens in order to choose connection with each other. We share our journey with others in hopes that others will not just want to change but actually make it part of their lifestyle to give this gift of listening. I pray and hope that this new data will impact us as a body of Christ followers to not be afraid to reach out, to love our kids for who they are and not who we want them to be and that we’ll take the time to be present with them. The phone thing is tough but we’ve found when people KNOW we’re interested in them they can lay it down. Even if they can’t is doesn’t mean they don’t “see and hear” us listening. 🙂 Thank you for your work and sharing this message!

  2. Thanks, Terri. I’m glad the work resonates with you. Your experiences are exactly what drive the kind of research we do at Springtide. Glad we got a chance to connect over email as well.

  3. Oh that loneliness of hearts … I want to add a comment and I promise to keep it short this time and no addons! ; )

    Dear Brothers and Sisters

    We who do understand the automatically occuring problems of institutionalizing faith and christian community, we do have another problem out of it. We tend to jump on it sooner or later with other christians, and that is often like poison to the love inbetween. This has reasons in the other person, yes, but I don’t want to go into that because we are not to solve that with logic in the other person, the way is different, we are to proclaim “mutual acceptance regardless of our different spiritual opinions”. The only teaching allowed is one that directly leads to more love with each other and one that deepens and widens our trust in Jesus.

    Focus on our common believs, on our common good desires in our hearts, building up trust to the point of feeling free to be as we are and in this accepted and loved, mutually, to entrust us embarrassing things about ourselves, getting rid of all fear of man inbetween us, beeing totally honest about ourselfes but not trying to convince each other to something (the difference is like heaven and hell), and find in the closeness of hearts true love from God for each other. And in this, everything gets clear and pure (1 John 1:7, 1 Peter 1:22). Even what God teaches each one of us personally (1 John 2:27) becomes clear in this, because it is the same frequency.


  4. Not an addon, but a needed correction for the above (I had to learn this in the past days):

    The only teaching allowed (to other christians) is one that builds up mutual acceptance and understanding and trust and love with each other (((scratch: and one that deepens and widens our trust in Jesus))). <- How to trust Him wants God to teach us individually, personally – with Brothers and Sisters we only need to focus on finding true mutual unconditional acceptance and love. The rest will God be doing in our lifes individually. Giving spiritual advises and tips to Brothers and Sisters how to believe different to solve their problems is the wrong way (even if what we say is right), so often we thought we serve God this way, but this is not what our Brothers and Sisters need from us, they, we need how we right now really are to be totally acceptanced and loved by each other.

  5. Another correction and saying sorry

    “The only teaching allowed (to other christians) is one that builds up mutual acceptance and understanding and trust and love with each other” … when they do not ask, when they do not really want to know … then it’s often bad to the little love inbetween to jump on differences, how “church” would be right in our eyes and so.

    What I am learning is, if we really really live in love with others who also want that, it will shine to such an extent that other people will know we belong to Jesus and come to us and ask us things for the right reason (not because we promise them wealth or blessings or so). Love doesn’t force itself on others. And that’s what I did too. Really sorry about that. I hope I have learned my lession.

    But I also really want to correct that: It’s not bad to learn good things from others, especially if common theology says something different, then it could be a long journey to learn it with God alone. I am thankful for many good things I have learned from Wayne and from the rest of the gang. Even though it could eventually have a problematic side if we are always only on the hunt for the next teaching from others, we eventually miss what God teaches us personally, but I think if we are steering towards being honest with God and trusting Him and that mutual love thing with others, I think we are on track.

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