DISCLAIMER: Okay… so here is an unedited rant. I was thinking on the crux of
my thesis and just spilled this out… plus I've been pent up in my
house with a fever for four days:
I've been challenged a few
times during this thesis process that perhaps what I was actually
trying to accomplish was the triumph of the younger generation of
emerging adults in the church. It was put to me that perhaps I had a
bias towards this age group and wanted to see them "take over" or
influence the worship style or spend ridiculous amounts of money on
cutting edge media.
Huh. I have to admit that ten years ago
the answer would have been yes. I was by then a well-worn youth pastor
who knew teens were disgruntled about the churches they were in. I
knew they had great, fun youth groups where they gave their lives to
Jesus and grew in faith and passionately pursued a life of change. I
knew that once they graduated their youth groups they had no where to
go, no where to fit in, no one to accept them, and no one to equip them
to keep growing in passion and faith. The "church" and the "youth
group" were night and day.
No wonder generation lines have been drawn so deeply in so many of
our churches. Churches weren't reaching teens… so youth groups
started… These youth groups generally showed some raw and basic faith
that fired teens up… and then churches refused to bring them into
their fold because they had too much passion or too little maturity or
too despicable of a respect towards the institution and the practices
that they had made so rote for at least one of the older generations.
don't know if that made sense… I'm ranting… but I can get
passionately frustrated that churches have turned their backs to
younger generations being brought up and given the baton of leadership
without a leash. A kid is never accepted in his home church… (didn't
Jesus say that?).
The bias of this study is not to champion the
cause of the "next" generation. What good would that do!?! If I
championed their cause, to the suppression of the faith and passion of
the older generations, I would be a jerk and a pretty stupid pastor.
If I championed their cause, to the severance of the "next-next"
generation, I would be propagating the same frustrating paradigm upon
The bias of this study is that ONE GENERATION IS TO
PROCLAIM TO THE NEXT about the Lord so that they grab it and then…
PROCLAIM TO THE NEXT… etc etc etc etc etc etc.
says "Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one
can fathom. One generation will commend your works to another; they
will tell of your mighty acts. They will speak of the glorious
splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
They will tell of your awesome works, and I will proclaim your great
The author hears about the Lord from those previous to
him. They tell him over and over again. They bring him into their
fold and teach him in such a way that he embraces it and it sticks!
The author is so overwhelmed that he then naturally begins proclaiming
the same story of God!! But notice, the older generation spoke of the
glorious splendor of God's majesty… and the author meditated on God's
wonderful works. Notice that the older generation told of God's
awesome works… and the author proclaimed his great deeds. Not a huge
shift there… but there is a nuance change. The author is given the
freedom and blessing by the older generation to know the Lord for
himself in his day in the way that makes sense. The author, in turn,
learns to give freedom and blessing to the older generation to do the
same. And in that chorus they praise God together intergenerationally.
bias is not that there will be some kind of cookie cutter church
formula into which every new generation needs to be brainwashed. My
bias is that every generation must proclaim to the next and then
empower the next generation to proclaim. This involves commitment,
love, courage, confidence in Jesus, and the willingness to adapt…
Never will the story be different… but it may be held triumphantly
with a slightly different look with each passing season.