Generational Differences 3

Rick Mattson Church, Uncategorized 5 Comments

With one foot in middle-age boomer culture and the other foot in collegiate ministry, I offer the following observations on the differences between generations.

This is part 3 in the series.

See if you agree with me:

What does it all mean for my generation?

1. We’ve been rightfully disappointed in young people for abandoning the church the past 20 years.

2. But will we stick around when they come to power in our churches (as they already are), the next 20 years?

Middle age trying to connect with students at Michigan State

What does it all mean for 35-and-under’s?

Tune in next week.

Comments 5

  1. I think you're on the right track, Rick. I'd suggest you pick up Barna's latest book, “You Lost Me”. We're losing roughly 40% of our active young people after they leave for college. Many of them never return to church, though they haven't lost faith in the Lord.

    What does that mean? I think we'll see a growth in permanent house gatherings that aren't connected to *any* brick-and-morter church. The CEO/Senior Pastor model will need to make room for the “tribes” meeting on their own for sustained periods of time. They might meet at Starbucks or the golf course.

    What they are looking for is something deeply meaningful, relevant and real. Those of us in our 50's need to look in the mirror and ask some tough questions: are we really who we think we are?

    We need to reach out and help them find wisdom, not just information. But we need to be seen as credible resources first.


  2. Bill, good call on Barna's book. I'll check it out.

    I'm an adamant believer in the local church. Defining “church” is therefore a critical question. I wonder what my response would be to an invitation from a golf course “church” or a Starbucks “church” to help them out.

    I know I'd show up, ready and willing to lend a hand. But in my heart, would I really approve/affirm such an expression of church, or would I try to convince them toward a more conventional model? I'm not sure.

  3. Rick –
    You're giving me much to ponder about, mostly because I see myself in both lists (true for each of the three lists you've posted).

    I'm chronologically *just* closer to the 45 year olds, but lean more to the younger list slightly.

    Guess that makes me backwards or confused, but Shannon could probably have already told me that:)

    This is something of a sea change in the American church, priming to happen soon. I too am a firm believer in the local church, but how do we bridge the generational differences so that the changes that need to happen do so in the right context, and how do we do so in a way that keeps the unwise changes from happening at all?

  4. Rick,
    I think this type of discussion is essential…the only problem in the generalizations. What do you make of the gathering and things that just came out of Passion 2012? Just google it to read up about it. CNN even did a piece on it! Finding the right way to engage the next generation is the key…not throwing our hands up in despair.

  5. Ron: Over-functioning in our choices to reach out to young people is definitely a risk. First job is to understand them — no small task.

    Pastor Chris: No hand-throwing here! I believe engaging the “other,” whether it is the oldsters from the young perspective, or vice versa, is a cross-cultural experience. I'd like to see the church use tools from missiology and cross-cultural communication resources to make the necessary connections.

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