(September 11, 2017) Robert and Maureen McQuillan bring a timely challenge…
Hoon is a derogatory term often used to refer to anyone, especially young people, who engages in loutish activities that can include speeding, burnouts, doughnuts or screeching tyres. In other words… irresponsible behaviour.
We were talking recently with a mature young friend about dependability – or the rather the lack of it – in some church circles.
Now our insightful friend is not only dedicated to his commitment as a husband and father, he’s a highly reliable but ever so busy businessperson. And yet he’s also totally committed to doing whatever is required of him by the both the Lord and his pastor to help build his home church.
And as we shared, he pointed out his observations of a major problem with many Christians, particularly the younger ones – although they claim they want to serve Jesus and their church through their talents and skills but they have no concept of commitment.
Actually this observation came up when we shared that we grew up in a day when one’s word was their bond. That if you said you would do something, then you did it no matter what it cost you… time, energy, personal expense especially if your promise – your commitment – involved doing something for your pastor and local church. And you answered letters and as phones with call-back messages became the in-thing, you replied to them!
In fact, we said that we believed commitment is a Christian characteristic, a biblical principle, not just the right thing to do!
- Sadly, we had to add that it’s not only the younger set that doesn’t keep their word! Some pastors and church leaders are guilty here too (even though they’ve promised!).
- Unfortunately this trait is absent in many these days, not just especially among young people.
- And even though the younger generation is known for being tec-savvy and entrenched in repeated SMSing and emailing, there is a noticeable lack of responding to important emails and SMSs, let alone phone calls!
- Very often things that have been promised to be done aren’t carried out (Some Christian business owners tell that they are wary of employing Christians because of letdowns!).
- Excuses come through about ‘being too tired’ or ‘too many things on.’
- As highlighted on TV in a quiz show recently, bad consistent usage of mobile phones by so-called tec-savvies when in the company of friends is now named the biggest killer of meaningful face-to-face relationships!
Young guns with spinning wheels
Our wise young friend put it this way: It’s a case of young guns all raring to go, but not much sense of direction or purpose – wheels spinning but going nowhere!
Aware that young people are usually very tec-savvy and their skills are so needed in church circles to ensure professionalism and in line with the world’s competitiveness but that many young people expect remuneration, he made a further comment: ‘Voluntary ministry is a thankless job, and unfortunately, while most Generations X, Y, Z and Alpha seem spiritually willing, they can be fleshly and intentionally weak on execution… a tough gig.’
Incidentally, this ‘generations’ thing (depending on which source one reads) is usually stated as:
- Baby Boomers (or Builders, those born in post WW2 years)
- Generation X (or the ‘Why me’ generation, born 1965-1980)
- Generation Y (or Millennials, born 1981-1999)
- Generation Z (or the iPadders, born 2000 – 2009)
- Generation Alpha (or the Next Generation, born after 2010).
And you’ll also find other generations listed on Google: Generation Silent, Generation GI… the list goes on!
Let’s stick to Baby Boomers and the younger ‘tough gig’ generations…
- Baby Boomers are commonly put down today as ‘stuck in their ways, especially in churches.’
- Generation X saw growth in multiculturalism, personal computers, AIDS, single parent families. Often labelled slackers due to their lack of commitment, focus and likelihood to change careers several times, this generation is considered more likely to be like ostriches… keeping their heads down than desiring to change the world.
- Generation Y has lived through the age of environmentalism and globalisation, September 11 worldwide aftermath, cable television and the internet. Commonly putdown as lazy, debt-ridden and seeking immediate gratification, they are portrayed as demanding, unrealistic in their career aspirations, quite lonely and internet/mobile/tablet-addicted.
- Generation Z, never having experienced the pre-internet world, is so technology-focused. Their interaction obsession is socialising via media websites. Classed as insecure and unsettled, they believe their peers display characteristics that they do not see readily in themselves – such as competitiveness, curiosity and spontaneity.
- Generation Alpha – the new kids on the block – has been declared the most formally educated generation in history, starting school earlier and studying longer. Labelled materialistic, many have older, wealthier parents and fewer siblings.
But whatever the title, the reality is that every generation in this mixed-up troubled world is looking for genuine love – that agape love without limits that our esteemed theologian friend Dr Jim McClure wrote so exegetically on in back in May (https://connectingwithyou.net/2017/05/11/words-of-life-g2-love-without-limits-agape/ ).
Who can influence these young guns with spinning wheels?
Research shows that many are seeking for something more, something more meaningful than just friendships among their limited core group of three to eight friends.
Recently some churches are referring to themselves not just as the family but a community (in some countries churches actually have to call themselves ‘communities’ not ‘churches’ otherwise they could be persecuted).
Such a church ‘community’ is founded on Christian love… many of these generations actually want such a community where they’re understood, accepted, respected, and included, not treated as outsiders, unwanted sinners.
On top of this inner longing, research shows that while they spend most of their spare time with their peers, they often fail to experience real unconditional love, and a meaningful connection when with them. Above all else they, teens and twenties especially, wish for a genuine happy relationship and an understanding that ‘never being bored’ is of highest importance to them.
Believe it or not, here’s where the ‘old fogies’ come in! It’s interesting that Baby Boomers have been termed ‘the Builders’ – as such we are challenged today to reach a mixture of all generations, not just the Y, X, Z and Alphas.
Some time back a Google report pointed out that Australia was being transformed by population ageing – the baby boom cohort of almost 6 million people born between 1946 and 1964. That the ‘baby boomers are the first generation to face the new ‘third age’ with its unprecedented expectation of a decade or two of relatively healthy life after retirement.’
Wise Christian seniors today can bring to later life a range of life experiences and expectations that are profoundly different from those of previous generations. How then can such builders – the ‘old fogies’ – reach today’s younger generation and involve them in church matters that will pause their spinning wheels and get them going somewhere positive with kingdom meaning?
In love we can be like Jesus, do what he did, and follow his example! With loving concern he made a point of reaching people where they were at! Such as –
- The unknown woman at the well
Denied acceptance by other ‘good’ women and forced to visit the well in the heat of the day, not in the cool as did the other ‘accepted’ local women of her community, she needed understanding and real friendship.
Notorious tax collectors were not liked by their own people, but Jesus deliberately sought him out for a meal.
Aware that Judas would betray him, Jesus willingly sought to befriend him and establish a genuine relationship.
He dared called Peter too, his right-hand man as it were, yet the one who would let him down so badly, even deny him.
So willing to meet this religious leader, a possible accuser, on the seeker’s terms – at night when no-one could see them chatting.
- The Gentile mother
The ‘non-Jew’ requesting a miracle based on God’s promise to Israel only that healing was ‘their children’s bread.’
Age did not come into it! Matthew 1:13-14 (Mge): ‘Children were brought to Jesus in the hope that he would lay hands on them and pray over them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus intervened: “Let the children alone, don’t prevent them from coming to me. God’s kingdom is made up of people like these.”’
- And so on…
Needed: Genuine people whose word is their bond and can be trusted!
Why is such action needed – not only toward the unchurched but in regards to our current church attenders? We’re told that research has revealed a strongly felt need in these ‘generations’ … reliable guidance, direction and mentoring that is trustworthy – beyond TV ads and, for that matter, church hype that is regularly thrown at them.
Tec-savvy most of these ‘younger generations’ may be – but they are unsure of where they are now, never mind where they’re going. They look for understanding, respect – and genuine people, caring and experienced.
It appears the reality is that these folk are seeking specific direction from someone who genuinely seeks to know them, their situation, and has even travelled that way themselves. Beyond the glitter of their tec-savvy world, they’re looking for real life role models and mentors who not only know the way, but also go the way, and can show the way!
Researchers have pointed out that ‘traditional blackboard chalk and talk’ won’t work with this generation. While Baby Boomers…
- Structure communication style, they want freedom.
- Stress learning, they like experiencing.
- Focus on the individual, they are socially driven.
It’s been reckoned that there are essentials that genuine builders must consider when reaching these other ‘generations’ today, Essentials such as –
It was acknowledged that Jesus spoke with authority. These ‘generations’ don’t expect us to know all about their culture or lifestyle… but if we ‘experienced oldies’ are to reach and help them, we need to know that they can sniff out phonies, that they expect our communication and lifestyle to be credible, not riddled with hidden agendas or falsity.
Let’s be transparent as we seek to reach them, aware that they are seeking reality as well as understanding and respect. Let’s know too that they are not necessarily impacted by some slickly manufactured spiel or rehearsed talk! They don’t want to be intimidated but seek truth, genuineness and spontaneity that comes from the heart.
Church leaders particularly must recognise that these generations, especially Alpha, access the most advanced technology, movie special effects, and video games – we’re not in the competition game: we’re here to share in simple clear speech the gospel’s good news through our testimony and our sincerity in caring for others.
There is an old and true guideline in education circles: ‘They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care! Communicating to this generation requires openness, vulnerability, and genuine interest in those we are trying to reach, and above all else, understanding.’
With the Holy Spirit’s help, from our years of experience, we Baby Boomers can be effective builders – wisely mentoring and encouraging any of these generations… giving them honesty, genuine friendship, good advice, direction in life, and a reason to be committed to following and serving Jesus – and their church (See Dr Jim’s September article linked below).
Let’s always reach out as Jesus would to help and encourage them move ahead – not remaining stuck due to spinning wheels that are going nowhere! No Christian is meant to be a spiritual hoon but a traveller in this life who is ever moving forward with a strong sense of security in Jesus.
(Scripture emphases ours) Links: Jim McClure’s … https://connectingwithyou.net/2017/09/11/use-by-date/