​Chris Pratt and Gen Z

So I woke up on Tuesday morning to videos of Chris Pratt’s acceptance speech for his Generation award at the MTV Movie Awards. I was expecting funny quips with some nuggets of wisdom woven in, but I was greeted by so much more.

I was immediately taken back to my high school graduation and “Don’t Forget your Sunscreen.”

This spoken word track was the advice to the generation of students graduating in the late 90’s. We all remember it, and can probably still quote sections of it to you today.

I think Chris Pratt’s speech from Monday night will be a similar speech for Gen Z. As people, both parents, and student leaders, here are some things we can take away from what Chris had to say.

Take Responsibility

He leads off with the pronouncement that because this is the generation award, he is their elder and he is taking responsibility to teach them some things. He tells them to, “I am your elder so listen up.” Those of us that lead the next generation has been given a platform to mold and shape them according to God’s word, and we don’t need to mess that up. We can’t abdicate that responsibility to the world, but need to take responsibility by the horns and unashamedly teach this generation to believe in God and dedicate their lives to His plan and purpose.

Make it Personal

Chris led off his awards speech the way any good awards speech starts, with thank yous, but he made it personal when he began to talk about his upbringing. He continued to make it personal when he talked about parties and ended with the idea that we are all, even himself, are imperfect. When we talk to students, we need to make it personal. They need to see us for who we really are. They need to know what drives us, when we are weak, what we are passionate about, and most importantly, what we believe. I don’t know Christ Pratt personally, but I think that what he had to say was both genuine and personal

Humor Works

I admit that I am partial to using humor as a teaching tool and Chris Pratt is excellent at it. He interspersed humorous moments of how to poop at a party with truths about the sinfulness, the atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross, and caring for the weak. He kept the audience engaged through his hilarious “advice”, but this led to those some people drinking in the eternal truths that came along with it. Funny works to draw others for you to deliver big truths.

Make it applicable

Chris did something that every person that works with teens attempts to do: he made the truth that he was speaking epically and immediately personal. He gave application points for the truth that he was speaking about. I will never get over his first point, which was you have a soul, and you need to protect it. What a timely message for this generation as the world attempts to invite them to sell their souls for temporary pleasures. He didn’t just say, “Don’t be a turd,” but explained how to not be a turd. He didn’t just tell us that God has given us grace but told us what we can do with that truth. When speaking to students, we need to make sure that we always give actions points when teaching the truth.

Pray

He didn’t just tell us to pray but encouraged us to learn to pray. This is something that I am still doing and need to do a better job of teaching to my family and the students that I lead. It is good for your soul, just as Chris states, and will draw you closer to God. This generation of students need to learn how to connect with God in prayer, and we are the ones who have been given the task to teach them.

Eternal Truth

Wow, Chris really delivered a great deal of eternal truth in a little over 4 minutes. I know that others have thought that he didn’t go far enough with his discussion because he never mentioned the name of Jesus, but he got people thinking. So often we think we have to give all the truth contained in the Bible in one sitting but is some of that truth enough? I think that I have found over the 17 years I’ve been in student ministry that it is more important to use the truth found in the Bible to speak into a certain situation and open a conversation. Think about how many conversations this video will start for those that know nothing of what God has done for us or even how he created us, both of which are talking points Chris referenced in his speech.

The Dog and It’s Medicine

What a perfect metaphor for what Chris did in the entirety of his speech. He wrapped personal anecdotes and humor around the truth of God and fed it to the audience and those that will watch the video later. I am sure that there are others that have seen this video and were in the room that night that cared little for God, Jesus, the Bible, etc., but all of these took the medicine that Chris was giving them because it was wrapped in something that we all like. Remember that when you speak to students that sometimes we need to wrap the truth that Jesus has given us to share in a way that people will take it. You never know when that message will get through so keep giving people the medicine that comes from God and pray (just as Chris encouraged us to do) that the medicine will heal their heart as only Jesus can.

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