Generations

A friend of mine recently pointed out that my blog posts were predominately negative in tone. This is true. I have a lot to critique as the church is plagued by inadequacy and well, people. Many have said it before me: church would be so much easier if it didn't involve people. But alas, this is the fallen institution to which we've been called to call our home away from home. I'm not alone in this.

Statistics continue to pour in as the church laments, "the exodus of the young people." Perhaps this is the lot of younger people: to criticize those who've gone before us. Yet somehow I find this reductionist at best, pejorative at worst. Because one of the values of my generation is authenticity. And it would go against everything we value to promote the goodness of the church institution if we held even the tiniest bit of skepticism about it.

Make no mistake; young people are leaving the church. But the mistake is to think that they are leaving the faith. Rather, young Christians are fed up. They're frustrated with the church they've been taught to believe is the only manifestation of true, biblical faith. But more importantly, they've been hurt. I know this because I've been hurt by the church.

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I know what it's like to have deeply personal feelings shared as "prayer requests" at members' quarterly meetings. It's what another friend of mine likes to call life "in the fishbowl." And let me tell you from experience, it sucks. A problem exists when the generation that runs the church doesn't recognize things like this. Most hurt among friends and family is not caused intentionally, but it's really hard to heal when the hurting party refuses to accept that any hurt was caused, regardless of intention.

Yes, there are significant differences between my generation and that of my parents. Even more so than my parents and their parents. So some amount of disagreement is to be expected. Yet the fallacy persists that good intentions never harmed anymore. And oddly enough, the solution to this generational problem lies within that very statement.

Older folks need to admit that the very people they were striving so hard to protect, they ended up hurting. And we need to recognize that our parents' generation never intended to hurt us. Because the temptation is to make this an "us versus them" situation. The real temptation is to think that we don't need each other. Or do we take it as a coincidence that God gave younger people passion and older people wisdom?

Would it surprise us to find boomer churches today that are decaying from a lack of passion? Or millennial churches filled with corruption from a lack of wisdom? It's as if we've ignored the obvious principle that God gave us in his creation of us: mankind was meant to exist in generations. He could have chosen to make all of humanity at once. Instead, we have each been allotted a number of days that not only overlap with certain individuals, but at specific times during their lives.

My wife and I have made the observation that had we met only a year earlier—and circumstance seems the only thing that got in the way of this—we would have never fallen in love. This is an essential to human existence. We have the opportunity to exist as children, parents, grandparents, even great-grandparents nowadays. And each station of life provides a unique perspective as well as peculiar challenges. It's time we started taking advantage of that; it's time we started engaging each other. Some have already begun the conversation. Let's continue it.

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