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some postmodern thoughts

March 29, 2007

I’m on my third book, now, about the drastic shift our spiritual society (and in many regards our society as a whole) is just stepping into. Miller calls it a new era, Kimball (it’s okay – I just heard Schwarzenegger’s voice in my head too) calls it vintage faith, Barna calls it a revolution, but they’re all talking about the same thing. That is: why young, hip kids, teenagers, and 20-somethings don’t want to go to church. Allow me to dump some of this out of my brain.

Miller will tell you this emerging generation is different from any other before it. The age of “broadcast” is over, and the digital is taking over. Kids are involved in their learning experiences in hands-on ways, they’re connected via the internet, and no longer does an action have one equal and opposite reaction. Don’t believe me? Visit a wiki site, or MySpace, or watch this. (Even if you do believe me, watch that anyway – it’s a 22 month old playing Wii. Pretty amazing … and he falls over once, which is just hilarious to me. He’s playing virutal tennis, but he can’t stand up in the real world.)

Kimball (“It’s not a tumor!”) will tell you this emerging generation is different from any other before it. Most of them have none of the Judeo-Christian foundation that we expect of people when they enter a church. We expect to be able to use words like “Abraham” and “redemption” in sermons, but they don’t get it. What’s more – and what’s really exciting if you ask me – is that they’re looking for a spiritual experience. The parents that sit in churches today were raised on teevee with the idea that a traditional church experience is boring – so our churches are brightly lit, sometimes rather sterile, and void of religious symbols. The new kids want to meet God and they expect to walk into a church that is dim, intimate, and decorated with things that remind them of God (like a cross). We wonder why they reject a Christian church for Buddist temples or palm readers – have you ever experienced the ambiance in those places?

Barna will tell you this emerging generation is different from any other before it. There’s a revolution at hand in which people are tired of the shallow society all around them, and are determined to live for something real. They’re willing to do it with or without the local church because they understand that they are the Church. If the church wants to remain part of the Church, she’ll have to catch up. (Don’t believe me? Check out Threads.)

So when you put it all together, what have you got? A generation of young people raising themselves with all the knowledge of the world at their fingertips. They’re searching for Truth, but it’s a needle in a haystack with every world faith or anti-faith claiming to be truth. All they know of Jesus is that He was a really good guy. Most of them think Christians are mean, hypocritical people, and they wonder why our spiritual gathering places look like department stores.

What does it mean for the western Church? I’m not sure it’s my place to say, but I like Kimball’s take. At the very least it means we need to be aware. Obviously the local church can’t please everyone on any given Sunday morning (and we can’t change the way we do things on the whim of a couple authors), but if we really want to reach a postmodern, post-Christian generation we might have to do it a different evening. Are we willing to step out and try something new?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Tami permalink
    March 30, 2007 2:19 pm

    okay, you little…INLUENCER, you! i’m blogging.

  2. Tami permalink
    March 31, 2007 3:23 am

    inluencer?? i’m positive i typed an “f” in there as well…with the baby squirming on my lap as i hunted and pecked using three fingers on one hand…hmm, weird.

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