Pastor Amos Pang (32) works full-time at Bethesda Bedok-Tampines Church. He has been journeying with young people for half of his life and most recently organised Youth Nights every month through 2023. He reflects on what this experience has taught him about Gen Z and intergenerational unity. 

Over the past year, the Youth Nights Team has been hosting monthly Youth Nights so that young Christians can have a spiritual community where they can discuss topics relevant to them like praying in schools, honouring their parents, grades and prayer.

This was also a space where young people could gather, inspire and encourage each other. The time we shared also helped one another to know that we aren’t alone in the challenges we face living as Christians! Youth Nights also had one other goal: to bridge the gap between Gen Z and the older generations.

Every month as we gathered, it wasn’t just young people gathering. There were also adults who had committed to being there every month for the entire year, to journey with any young people who would come.

From early on in the year, discussion groups were formed so that any young person who would come monthly would always end up in that discussion group with the same adult facilitator.

The hope was that young people would build relationships with their adult facilitators and hopefully enter into deeper mentoring relationships beyond Youth Nights!

Before Youth Nights officially launched, we consulted some Gen Zs on what they hoped adults would be for them.

Based on this feedback, we conducted a training for the adults: to prioritise listening and not judging at the onset, and to withhold their opinions on what was shared until asked by the young people.

This proved effective! We learnt that Gen Zs did have a certain perception of adults as only wanting to shove our own thoughts and ways unto them, that we do not listen to them and only want to tell them what to do.

After a few Youth Nights, when the young people realised that these adults were not like that, the young people opened up more, and most did come to place where they were willing to hear what the adults had to say on the topics as well!

Every Youth Nights ended with the adults praying for the young people. And while the discussion groups did not end up to be as fixed as we hoped, a number of adults and young people who came month after month did form and enter into mentoring relationships that will persist beyond Youth Nights.

Coming into our final Youth Nights on 22 December, some thoughts lingered on my mind.

I was so encouraged that the year demonstrated that there really is a genuine desire for intergenerational unity from both older and younger generations, so much more than ever before!

This was seen in how our adult facilitators truly tried their very best to listen and be there without judgement for the youths despite youths being youths sometimes!

In the same way, many of the youths who came grew convinced that the adults genuinely cared for them and opened up in a way that was so encouraging to see!

However, in terms of attaining the goal of true intergenerational unity — I learnt from planning and executing the programmes that we’ve still got a lot more to learn.

In crunch times, when the rubber hits the road, both generations (despite their best intentions) still struggled with old habits and with understanding one another. 

Despite the desire of adults who want to support the next generation, and the youths who desired to submit to their elders, both sides occasionally struggled to let go of their points of view when it came to achieving a common goal since both sides felt their way forward was better. 

While it was admirable that all parties simply wanted what was best for the outcome of the project, there were times in the year when both generations struggled to let go of their idea of what the outcome could look like.

However, with the last Youth Nights, a glimpse of true intergenerational unity did come into full display!

Since the theme of the Youth Worship Night was worship across the generations, the night was planned not just with the Youth Nights Team, but other adults as well, who played big parts in the flow of the program.

True enough, in the planning phase, same old issues came up when it came to navigating intergenerational planning, but this time, both sides were more ready to give up their ideas in order to listen to one another. The outcome was a program that admittedly looked messier, but included more elements that came from both generations, and worth the changes to bring about!

On December 22, the culmination of intergenerational planning, worship practice and prayer resulted in a unique night where over 200 youths and adults gathered together to worship and pray.

The songs were geared more towards the youth at first, but as the night progressed, adults took the stage to play a set of songs, showing their support for these young people.

The highlight of the night was the intergenerational prayers made from the young people to the adults, and then from the adults back to the young people.

The adults on stage then presented a picture of an arrow to the young people, which symbolised two important meanings.

  1. Young people are like arrows: they have the potential to shoot far, but must be aimed straight to hit their targets.
  2. Before arrows can fly, they are kept in their quivers — hidden but ready.

So too must this generation be: built up in hidden places and ready. My prayer is that when the time comes, they may stand with the support of the older generations to fly far, straight and hit the target.

The night ended with a worship band comprising of members from across all generations, jumping and singing praise to the Lord as one people — it was truly a sight to behold!

This last Youth Night really felt like coming full circle as we started our Youth Night with a worship night and ended with one. It was also amazing as it gave us a glimpse of what can be done when generations truly walk together in unity.

As I write this, I make a plea to any adults reading this: the next generation needs father figures to walk with them and listen to them.

The best way to do so, is to just journey with them without judgement, until they are convinced you care!

As I write this, I make a plea to any adults reading this: the next generation needs father figures to walk with them and listen to them.

Then you will be surprised at how much they will desire to hear what you truly think! It could be a long and painful journey, especially when conflicts arise, but it is worth it! Would you consider speaking into a young person’s life?

To any young person reading this, my encouragement to you is that there are more adults who love you and support you than you think!

As an adult, sometimes we don’t know how to best show that to you. Sometimes, in our own zeal, we try to show it to you in a way that makes things worse for you.

We are sorry, but our hearts are always for you to fly far, fly straight, and hit your targets.

Would you open up your hearts for adults to speak into your life?