Monday Morning Hangover 1.18.09: Conversations with Generations

What a weekend it was. We had a great weekend service. It was, of course, a unique Sunday with the recent tragedy in Haiti. On short notice we were able to donate more than I really thought possible. I pray this support continues for the devastated country as it will be needed for many years to come. Sometimes being generous can be easy because “it’s the thing to do” and very easily change to “out of sight, out of mind.” This is a country that will need our prayer and support for a long time to come.

It was interesting the conversations that this event created in and around my church.  Everything from agreement with Pat Robertson’s statements to a desire to leave immediately in response and everything in between.  And I was in discussion with a number of people I realized I could probably group the response type with generation.  Each generation’s response seem appropriate to how that generation view and responded to the Church and Christianity.

Two generations back from me (which i assume would make 3 generations ago to speak properly) was a church during turmoil.  World war, not too far removed from a major divisions within the church, and the rise of revival circuits is something familiar to this generation.  Fundamentalism was born out of these movements.  The revival circuits saw the “turn or burn” style of preaching as effective and popular.  This generation, in my conversations about Haiti, tended to gravitate towards the God’s Punishment point of view.  It is no wonder when you look back at environment in which they were introduced to God and Church.  God would punish them if they didn’t repent and follow a specific set of rules. (I won’t get into a theological debate nor a nature/nurture debate – i am just pointing out my observations) This generation and the beginning of the next, held on tight to the promise of eternal life often focusing more on “getting to heaven” rather than the time between now and then. Shoot this earthquake just emphasized the fact that Jesus was gonna return during their lifetime (I think the Apostle Paul said the same thing about his lifetime but that’s not here nor there). The hope that I found in these conversations was a generally accepted belief that regardless of the why, the nation of Haiti needed prayer and support.  I still struggle with the human judgement element.

The “Baby Boomer” generation saw a shift in how they viewed church and Christ.  This generation saw a shift towards the “me.” Phrases like “my walk” and “personal Lord and Savior” became a driving force in the church.  Baby Boomers saw the advent of seeker services and praise and worship.  Honestly all in effort to make church more enjoyable for them.  Most likely a product of the way they were raised – hard work, blue collar living in the midst of changing times – baby boomers began focusing more on themselves.  And this changed the way church happened and was viewed.  Mega Churches popped up with comforts the church has never seen.  Many baby boomers became self-made working long hours while providing a “better life” for their families.  These conversations were probably the least unique out of all – and thank God for that.  I might have lost faith in humanity if their responses were in line with how they changed the church.  It wasn’t about them and they were generally more apt to want to help through donation.

Generation X conversations seemed to lean towards action.  It you look at how Generation X has responded to the previous generations growth of Mega Churches and the inward focus you will see pretty much the opposite.  Smaller house churches, focus on social action and justice, unique church communities who are acting for change.  This is my generation.  And the conversations about Haiti could easily be categorized as one of action.  Without care as to why this happened the Gen Xers wanted to spring into action.  Most of my peers didn’t necessarily know how they could physically help but they wanted to.

Now these are general and broad descriptions of Generations.  But it is amazing through all of this to see how they view this moment in time through the lens of how they saw and changed church.

What do you think?  Am I missing anything?  How would you respond? Thinking back did conversations you have fit into any of these categories – as to how that generation views things?