Let me introduce you to the blog. This is dedicated to straight talk spirituality, in an attempt to dialogue and connect with the postmodern (and post-post modern) cultural world today. It is my venture to sneak my way into the minds of what I generally refer to as the Millennial Seekers, the current population whose socio-philosophical leanings are pointing towards an acute interest in spirituality, but repulsed by institutional religion. What are they thinking? What are they feeling? What do they want? What do they need?
This is a listing of recent generations for individuals born in the United States. Dates are approximate, as categorized by demographers.
- 2001-Present - Generation Z?
- 1980-2000 - Millennials or Generation Y
- 1965-1979 - Generation X
- 1946-1964 - Baby Boomers
- 1925-1945 - Silent Generation
- 1900-1924 - G.I. Generation
Every era is shaped by its own cultural, sociological, philosophical and notwithstanding, religious and spiritual markings and distinctives. Thanks to folks like David Kinnaman of The Barna Group whose significant research books are revealing to us the unique needs and paradigms of previous, and more importantly the current generation. Here are a few...
UnChristian: What A New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity
You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church…And Rethinking Faith
Churchless: Understanding Today’s Unchurched and How To Connect with Them
Where are we now? There is an eagerness and almost a frantic race to name the next generation of American consumers. Generation Z? Generation Wii? Gen Tech? Digital Natives? And how could we miss Net Gen?
A variety of economic, social, and technological developments at a rapid rate of change are reshaping our world. As a result, young adults are entering a society and culture that looks radically different from that of their parents. Transitional and identity issues, coupled with postmodern challenges pose a threat to the spiritual well-being and vibrancy of this population. An authentic relational environment, true spirituality, and intentional discipleship efforts are critical to engage them in their faith journey. They represent a large but inactive, impotent, and rapidly disappearing population in the body of Christ today. Setran and Kiesling, in their book Spiritual Formation in Emerging Adulthood, report that young adults today are less religious than all other age groups in matters of belief and practice.
Many become disenchanted with church and Christianity when they make the transition to college, build a career, start a family or begin their “real life.” Many of them will “no longer be particularly engaged in a church by their thirtieth birthday.” A significant reason is their experience of the church or Christianity is shallow—neither engaging or relevant. In a survey, Kinnaman discovered that one-third said “church is boring” (31%). One-quarter of these young adults said that “faith is not relevant to my career or interests” (24%) or that “the Bible is not taught clearly or often enough” (23%). Sadly, one-fifth of these young adults who attended a church as a teenager said that “God seems missing from my experience of church” (20%). That last description—that young adults belong to an increasingly experiential generation—is crucial and telling. Their longing to “experience” God with regards to faith matters is fueled by the fact that they belong to a generation that is also highly skeptical. Kinnaman points out,
Young Christians are the least likely generation to believe in and experience the presence of the Holy Spirit [emphasis added]. In addition, the spiritual practices and historic traditions of the church, which serves to deepen believers’ understanding and experience of God, often seem hopelessly old fashioned to many of today’s young adults.
“Young adults are likely than other age group to doubt the existence of angels or the miracles that Jesus performed. Twenty somethings are also the least likely to believe that Jesus still speaks today in a personal and relevant way.” Their skepticism (quite like doubting Thomas in the bible) presents to the Church a great opportunity to authenticate the reality and power of the gospel by facilitating a God encounter or a God experience. For the young adults, the gospel needs to impact them beyond the cognitive domain, and into the affective and experiential, where they sense the tangible, undeniable, transcendental “otherness.”
The gospel is one of power, signs, wonders, and miracles. The apostle Paul points out, “My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power…” (1 Cor. 2:4). Elsewhere, he emphasized, “For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power (1 Cor. 4:20).
There is a deep longing to know God’s power in reality, not just know about Him. Unless these young adults experience the presence of God for themselves, they are unlikely to relate an authentic and personal experience to a lost world. The Church needs to recognize the gravity of this challenge at hand and must work diligently to engage this population with the relevance, authenticity and power of the gospel or we risk losing a generation to the pull of the world. Young adulthood is a season of formidable challenge, but it is also one of great opportunity.
Many great revivals and missionary movements throughout history were, in fact, birthed through the unquenchable fire, zeal and passion of young adults. Andy Crouch describes them as “culture makers,” the ones most likely to create opportunities to connect gospel truths to a variety of cultural contexts. There is such great potential for young adults to impact culture and society. But here’s a warning…
They yearn for true spirituality—an authentic transcendental faith that is going to impact their whole person, body, soul, and spirit. Big lights, big music, free Starbucks coffee, and clever gimmicks don’t impress them anymore. They see past that smoke screen real quick into the flake and the superficial. There's got to be more.
For His sake,
David P. Setran and Chris A. Kiesling, Spiritual Formation In Emerging Adulthood: A Practical Theology for College and Young Adult Ministry (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2013), iBooks Electronic Edition: Introduction, Location 25.
David Kinnaman, You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church and Rethinking Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2011), 22.
Orr, J. Edwin, and Richard Owen Roberts. Campus Aflame: A History of Evangelical Awakenings in Collegiate Communities (Wheaton, IL: International Awakening Press, 1994).
Andy Crouch, Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2008), Kindle Electronic Edition: Introduction, Location 9-10.