Why Understand the Gen-X’ers?

25 02 2008

I write as a Baby Boomer. As far as I know, it is the first named generation. We are a large body of people who came to our own in the 60’s and 70’s. Many events, people, and movements have shaped our mindset. (I will make a comparison with the Gen X’ers in another post.) My generation was determined to be different, breaking away from the “establishment” and establishing our own identity. Hippies, draft dodgers, war protests, racial equality, Earth Day, Rock and Roll, bell bottoms, peace symbols, and (unfortunately) drugs, free love, abortion, and assassinations. We were (and still are) a complex generation that few took the time to understand. The term “generation gap” was coined to explain this cultural unrest. We were labeled as “rebellious’ by many because we rejected the norms of the previous generation. The fundamental church in America was very condemning of my generation and for many years, I believed it. As I look back on those formidable years, perhaps a little understanding, compassion, and dialogue would have went a long way. As I now look at the generation following mine, I would like to grant them the privilege. Why?

1. Generations will always be unique.
Acts 13:36 tells us that David served his own generation by the will of God. His generation was unique. Battles were fought, the kingdom was established and expanded, Psalms were written and sung, a coup was launched, etc… The generation in which you belong is different than the generation before or after it. It always will be the case.

2. We will be better able to win the lost to Christ.
Without an understanding of a generation, how could we serve them? If winning them to Christ is our mission, we cannot do it by embracing the methods of previous generations to win their generation.

3. Proper understanding will help to combat impatience, rejection, and prejudice.
Ignorance breeds all of that, and more. To stay ignorant and believe that every generation should be just like your own is unwise.

4. Discernment can be developed to discover their underlying needs.
If you study the life of Christ, He intersected the life of people at the point of their need. Some were sick, some hungry, some fearful, some without hope, some trying to hide sin, some with sin made embarrassingly public. Gen X’ers have many needs. As we discover who they are, we will be better able to intersect their live.

5. Effective ministries could be developed
These are ministries that may be quite different from those that were effective with other generations. They need to be innovative, cutting edge, and effective in reaching a generation that we are totally missing.

In this quest of reaching Gen-Xer’s for Christ, we may not have all the answers, but we could come a whole lot closer if we would study what makes them tick.

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