Reaction to “The Generation Of Contrast”
Recently, when reading a Christian blog page about the five fold ministry, a comment by a young lady to the article caught my attention. It read:
The church that I attend is unusual in that it teaches organic community, but it seems to me that the only organic community that is happening is with the staff who are together just about everyday. They are the ones who get to do “life together”. Sure we have small groups, but, none of the small groups that I’ve been apart of have ever actually done “life together” which is difficult meeting just once a week or twice a month. I’ve tried to “do life together” with people, but everyone is so consumed with their individual lives, work, family, etc. I often wonder ‘do I HAVE a life?’ They all seem perfectly okay with meeting once or twice (1 week day for small group & Saturday or Sunday for church) a week.
I was being discipled by one of my pastors and we used to meet once a month. But we haven’t met on a regular basis since last August. I wondered why, until I saw that she was “doing life together” with a couple of staffers at the church. I was becoming jealous because I wanted that, too. But, reading your blog, I just realized that what I am really longing for is organic community where I can know and be known completely without the titles of pastors, leaders, etc."
During the first century, the church broke break daily, integrating their daily lives culturally, economically, and socially through their new found faith in Jesus Christ. It was all about “relationship”, a community of fellowship of faith, daily, seven days a week. Christians met in homes, shared what they had, sold lands to help those in need, etc. There was no hierarchy of leadership and power yet, only leadership through horizontal relationships of service and hospitality. Somehow throughout history, the church has lost doing “life together”, at least that is how the young adult generation of today sees it.
This generation is hungering for relationships. Not only are they looking for future mates, spouses to share “life together”, but communal, corporate relationships with peers their own age and older. This generation so drastically wants “to belong.”
When my one son reached his late teens and through his twenties, he cried out to the church for an older male to “mentor” him, but few older men could afford the 24/7 demands and late nights that are part of hanging out with twentysomething life style. Today’s young adults are looking for relationships that go beyond just Sunday morning services with their hand shakes and pats on the back, or a young adult church program that meets once a week.
My daughter drives me nuts because she is a social creature who wants to “hang out” with someone every moment she gets away from her strenuous, daily, demanding job that is helping her to become self sufficient. She yearns for fellowship, but finds herself swallowed up in her job, her work, in order to pay her bills at the price of a “social life”. Opting to work on Sundays for financial reasons of survival, she has lost contact with the local church, who has not reached out to her. She sees that the expectations is that she is to “go to church”, not the church “go to her”, particularly when she is in need. Like the girl above, she too yearns to find a church whose believers practice “life together”.
The institutional church has tried to target young twentysomething adults through ministries and programs. A church plant in a movie theater targeted this group, but when relationships among these twentysomethings began to be entangled, and became a breeding ground for dating, then break ups, causing strained relationships because everyone was in their twenties, “life together” crumbled. How does the church face the mindset of “hanging out” of the later teens and early twenties age group to become “life together” corporately to young struggling adults who are trying to find meaning in life, direction in life, and acceptable peers in which to share relationships.
So the battle of these mindsets, and the desire for “life together”, and the need for social acceptance has caused this age group to questions the validity and definition of what is “church”. They wish to keep their faith in tact, their personal religious convictions, but struggle in how to do it corporately. It is hard enough for them to find an individual to spend “life together”, but they are also finding it extremely difficult to find a group corporately to spend “life together”, which they would redefine as “church”.