Yesterday, I discussed the over arching issues surrounding my generation within the Church (http://wp.me/pFnzm-dJ). Considering the overwhelming social change between my generation and the generations for me, we are left with an overwhelming gap within our own generation. We are extremely polarized in what we desire and want, not only within ourselves, but, what we want within a church.
One of the greatest problems facing my generation within the Church is that of realationality. The polarized gap has created a part of Christianity for my generation that wants to be solely independent people. This part of Christianity seeks to the answer of me. They want a Church that feeds to their needs. While another part of my generation is interdependent, What interdependent people seek are relationships that answer the we. Which also hits at another core issue of young adulthood facing my generation surrounding the question of what it means to be an adult. Previous generations strived for complete independence while that question is hanging over mine with a potential new answer of independence.
This issues surrounding my generation looks completely different within the Church. Those who have or seeking the independent relationship, this could potentially look very similar to the generation that is before us. They might be very content with going to Church, listening to worship music, listening to a sermon and potentially engaging in out of Sunday activities in group. While the interdependent young adult’s church experience is radically shaped around the quality of the relationship they’re with within the people they go to Church with. Also, because relationship is central to them, they’re cautious of to the people they allow to speak into their lives. Those with deeper relationships have deeper influence. A pastor who is not involved in this persons life, will have less effectiveness with their sermon because they have not found their way into this persons life. As well, if there are no young adults in the congregation, why would there be much appeal to go to Church because there is few that can relate to them on their level, share the current common experiences that they’re enduring and have a similar lifestyle. Going to Church is hard if there isn’t established relationships with a current generation there to do life with them.
A friend of mine recently told me, and I agree, that my generation has given up on the Church because the Church has given up on my generation. For my generation to return to the Church, the faces of the Church structure might change. For instance, the independent person may be completely happy in a larger Church where the Church is able to offer them resources that a smaller church might not be able to offer them. This Church will probably have to great speakers, worship leaders and have great resources in things like daycare, counseling, etc…. While the other side might look for smaller Churches like house Churches to maintain a very small an intimate community that is dedicated to living life together. A little disclaimer, I know people who are interdependent at large Churches and independent people at Small Churches. This is not a universal claim.
A Church that has not given up on my generation, will have to learn to be flexible. We are a generation that is truly seeking and doesn’t have a great identity to serve as our foundation. More than anything I know about my generation, I know this, this life is less about the destination as it is about the journey. We value the road to our answers, much more than the answers themselves. My hope is that we become a generation that loves the Church, but, the terms of this and the shaping of this might take radical flexibility on behalf of the older generations if they want us in it.
-How can we create relational opportunities for this generation in Church?
-Have we set up programs that don’t just look like dating services for young adults?
-How can the Church reach out to my generation to establish a connection and make them feel like an integral part of the community?