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Saturday, August 20, 2011

fixing the wal-mart culture

Last week I started a series about how and why twenty-somethings are fleeing the church.  Last post presented a set of reasons why we (I am a 24 year old licensed minister) are leaving the church.  This post will balance those reasons with possible solutions for overcoming those.  These ideas are the start of my theory for how end the exodus of the younger generations. 

1. Engage us in our language
     As I said last post, we are always engaging in one form or another in some sort of community be it facebook, twitter, or some other online group.  If you want to reach us but don't use these forms of communication forget about impacting our lives.  
     This outlook on life has it drawbacks to be sure.  We are not nearly as patient as our forefathers, if you can't communicate your message to us in 140 characters or less many of us likely don't care.  However, just as a missionary going to the Congo has to learn the language and culture of the people to contextualize the Gospel for them, so you must do to reach us in our spiritual wilderness wanderings, and wandering we are.

2. Recognize the value of intentional conversation
     When you become intentional about engaging our community, recognize the value in what we have to say.  Often church leaders are older than us, for good reason.  You (as the church leader), know more than us and have greater life experience than we do.  However, don't let your experience fool you.  While what you have to say is eternally valuable, we add something of value to the conversation too.  Don't forget the struggles you faced when taking on the mantle of the church from your fathers.  You had new ideas, thoughts, desires, and situations for which the Gospel needs to be contextualized, we are you, just younger.  
     To be sure, we will screw stuff up and commit some theological faux pas, but that is okay, you did too.  Talk with us not at us.  Give us the room to work out our faith with "fear and trembling," and be partners with us in doing so.

3. You Don't have all of the answers, embrace it.
     Twenty-somethings are arrogant.  We know that we know a lot.  One of the things we know very well is that our supposed leaders do not have all of the answers.  Any pretense that you do have all of our answers is screaming for us to turn you off.  
     The strange thing about this is that we don't care that you don't have all of the answers, in fact we don't want you to.  You know what would really surprise and impact us?  A leader who freely admits to not knowing and who wants to engage us in conversation about all things Christ.  We are a really screwed up generation, who wants to follow screwed up leaders.  Spit and shine does not appeal to us.

Join me for my next blog about the need for ugly Christians to appeal to our generation.   

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