An Anxious Generation — Now What?

This article was written by INCM Partner and Awana President and CEO Matt Markins. It is a paid promotion.

“Erosion doesn’t excite people.”

This is what I thought recently while reading a news story about an 1800s farmhouse in England that’s beginning to hang over the edge of a cliff due to seaside erosion. The historical home is about to be demolished to prevent it from careening over the side of the cliff, and spilling into the ocean.

But what struck me while studying the arial, birds-eye view was that there was no mention in the article of the house just next door. The soil erosion is also headed for the other house, too. It may take a few years, but it’s coming. The clock is ticking.

I have a hunch that the reason that the other house wasn’t mentioned is that we really don’t find it all that exciting to read about an impending crisis that is likely to take place in…5 – 7 years.

We don’t tend to find slow erosion all that exciting. A house dangling over the edge of the cliff — now that’s exciting!

In his new release book, The Anxious Generation, Jonathan Haidt, discusses the outcome of the slow, cultural erosion that’s been taking place since the mid-2000s specifically through the digital revolution. More and more students and even children are using mobile phones, apps, social media, and various digital screens at a younger and younger age and at an increasing rate. The results of this first-time-ever-human-experiment? An anxious generation.

The mental, emotional, and spiritual health of our young people — our children — is declining. Like a house careening over the edge of the cliff spilling out into the ocean…the outcome of our cultural experiment is catastrophic.

So, why is this happening?

Erosion. Slow erosion that’s been taking place among our children (beginning with toddlers and preschoolers) click-by-click, swipe-by-swipe on screen-after-screen since the iPhone emerged in 2007. This erosion has transformed the terrain of our cultural landscape and is forming our children into an anxious generation. In the most plain language possible: secularism is failing our children. So what must we do about an anxious generation?

This is exactly why Awana created the Child Discipleship Forum (CDF).

The CDF is the nationwide gathering place for those who want to be on the leading edge of understanding the impact of both the cultural formation and the biblical, spiritual formation of our children. We don’t have to keep reacting from one crisis to the next. There are real solutions. Solutions that work. But much like fighting erosion, it takes time, effort, insight, thought, and prayer.

When you attend the CDF and bring your key team members with you, you will be equipped with:

  • Fresh insight on how cultural formation is shaping your children (and you!) so you can help today’s kids navigate today’s world with biblical conviction and personal Christlikeness
  • A proven, biblical pathway to disciple kids to they can walk faithfully as a disciple of Jesus Christ, even in the midst of cultural adversity
  • New research to help you disciple and minister in a rapidly changing world
  • Practical solutions to help you biblically disciple kids at church and at home

It’s been said, “It’s not a matter of, ‘Are our children being discipled?’, but a matter of ‘Who or what is discipling our children?’” As children’s ministry leaders, Awana leaders, parents and pastors we have a choice. We can keep reacting to each crisis … after crisis … after crisis. Or, we can do the slow, counter cultural work of forming biblical child disciples like Daniel who chose to be untangled from the secular culture around him, yet remained faithful in the midst of it. This is why the Child Discipleship Form exists.

To help you make resilient child disciples, no matter the cultural surroundings. The CDF is filled with fresh insight, biblical solutions, and proven, research-backed practices to form lasting faith in children. As Jesus concluded the sermon on the mount, he said, “Whoever hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house upon the rock.”

I find Jonathan Haidt’s solutions offered in his book to be encouraging, comforting, rational and hope-filled. But they will only be so for the wise — those who put them into practice. If the crisis-point that is shaping our vulnerable children has you to a place where you are ready to do something about it, I invite you to attend the Child Discipleship Forum.

It’s time to get equipped with biblical, research-backed, practical solutions. It’s time that we put the best biblical insight into practice and disciple a generation of resilient kids. Will you join me? This may be the most consequential decision you make in 2024; a decision that will change the future of numerous children’s lives and shape the future of your church. I hope to see you there.


About Matt

Matt Markins serves as the President and CEO of Awana, a global leader in child discipleship. As a researcher in child discipleship and children’s ministry, Matt has commissioned 13 research projects since 2013, including a study conducted by Barna Group called, Children’s Ministry in a New Reality. He’s a board member at large for the National Association of Evangelicals and is the author or co-author of four books, most notably The Faith of Our Children: Eight Timely Research Insights for Discipling the Next Generation and RESILIENT: Child Discipleship and the Fearless Future of the Church. He’s also the co-founder of the Child Discipleship Forum and D6 Conference. Matt and his wife Katie have been involved in children’s ministry for more than 25 years and spend their time in Nashville with their two sons. For more information go to www.ChildDiscipleship.com and www.Awana.org.

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