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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Talkin' 'Bout My Generation

USA Today just released stats this past week on the spiritual life of the millennial generation (those ages 18-29). Though 65% of those interviewed claimed to be Christians, most "don't pray, don't worship and don't read their Bible..." according to LifeWay Christian Resources president Thomas Rainer. He goes on to announce the disheartening reality that, if such trends continue, "the Millennial generation will see churches closing as quickly as GM dealerships." 72% of those interviewed claimed to be more "spiritual than religious." One wonders what such spirituality consists of when 65% never pray with others and 38% never pray alone, 65% rarely or never attend worship (50% of those claiming to be Christians said this), and 67% don't read any sort of sacred text. (36% of those claiming to be Christians said this). Only 15% appeared to be what Rainer called "deeply committed" Christians.

Now, you may be saying to yourself, "Well this is very troubling, but what does it have to do with me? This is not my generation." And this is likely true. As I look at our congregation I notice that the millennial generation is noticeably absent. This is not so much a bad or good thing as much as it is a reflection of the demographics in Moorpark. However, these are your kids or your grandkids. Or, if your kids are still young, this is the generation that is producing the culture that is influencing your kids. And what this means is that we need to learn how to engage our kids, grandkids, etc. in conversations about faith so that we may have the opportunity to talk about Jesus.

But how do we engage with a whole other generation (as the Bible clearly calls us to do - Deuteronomy 11:18-19; Ephesians 6:4; Titus 2:1-6)? Mark Driscoll, the pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle (and my pastor-hero) mentioned in a follow up article to USA Today that this generation is brutally honest about their faith. They don't feel like they need to put on a show to impress anyone or pretend their faith. It seems to me, then, that the best way to engage our loved ones in conversations of faith is with honest conversation. Bring up issues of faith, challenge their preconceptions and let your own preconceptions be challenged, and be honest about your own doubts, struggles, etc. Don't pretend that you have Jesus and God all figured out, because we never will. But, don't act like you don't know anything either because the Lord has revealed His truth to you. Just be honest, and most importantly, talk about Jesus!

A lot of times, when we see grand announcements such as the one made by Rainer, that churches will be clothing their doors like crazy, we are tempted to adjust our business as the church in one of two ways: seclude ourselves from the world and protect what we hold dear or conform to the world and compromise for the sake of keeping our doors open. Both reactions are misguided and lead to a relationship with the world that doesn't fulfill what we are called to do as the church. Paul's instructions to Timothy show us God's will for His church in such times, "Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage -- with great patience and careful instruction." (2 Timothy 4:2) When the world is flocking to the church, when the world is leaving the church, when the generations are rejecting Christ, preach the Word in every conceivable season. Talk with your loved ones with great patience and careful instruction and let the Hold Spirit do His job!

Pastor Bob

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Faith Lutheran Church • 123 Park Lane • Moorpark, CA 93021 • (805) 532 1049 • Send Email