Defining a Generation

3 03 2008

Jesus said, “whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? And to what are they like? (Luke 7:31). It is wise to try and understand a generation younger than you own. It ‘s a mistake to expect a younger generation to be like yours. It’s a mistake to stereotype them or to overlook the circumstances and experiences that make them who they are. Perhaps it would be helpful to “liken the men (people) of this generation” to my own (Baby Boomer). Perhaps it is good to note the similarities and the differences. You can add to this chart, but here is how I would compare my generation with the Gen X’ers.

BABY BOOMERS……………………………….GEN X
Assassination of key leaders…………………………. 9/11
Cold Ware with Russia………………………………….. Iran, N. Korea
Vietnam War………………………………………………… War on Terrorism
Race riots……………………………………………………… Interracial couples
Hippie Culture……………………………………………… Hip-Hop culture
Civil Rights movement…………………………………. Gay Rights movement
Rock Music…………………………………………………… Rap Music
Kent State…………………………………………………….. Columbine
Lax morality………………………………………………….Little morality
“Change the world” ………………………………………“Whatever”
Earth day……………………………………………………… Global warming
ERA, women’s rights……………………………………. Latchkey kids
War on poverty……………………………………………. Welfare reform
Drugs…………………………………………………………… More drugs
Long hair, mini skirts …………………………………. Tattoos, body piercing
Elite space technology…………………………………. Common high tech devices
Challenge authority…………………………………….. Indifferent to authority
Color TV……………………………………………………… Satellite TV
Jesus movement…………………………………………. Tolerance
Slide rulers…………………………………………………. Personal computers
Evening news ……………………………………………… Internet
CB radios ……………………………………………………. Cell phones
Woodstock………………………………………………….. Napster
Monopoly …………………………………………………… Nintendo
Abortion rights…………………………………………… Euthanasia rights
……………………………………………………………………. Catastrophic tragedies (Tsunami, Katrina, Darfur, Insurgency, Virginia Tech)
Because of the probing and skeptical mindset of the Gen X’ers, their view of the church and of the Christian “religion” is very coutious and even cynical. They cannot help but think differently, even if they went to church all their life. They question what we take for granted. Take no offense in the question; they are not trying to be rude. They are looking for answers, not confrontations.
SAMPLE QUESTIONS FROM GEN X’ERS
1. If the Christian faith works for you, what makes you think it will work for me?
2. Where was God when I was suffering and in pain?
3. Why are Christians and the Bible so narrow, dogmatic, and judgmental?
4. Why is the Bible against things like premarital sex?
5. In a world so diverse, how can there be only one way to God?
Take a deep breath, step back, and try to understand where this tattooed and pierced generation is coming from. It’s worth it. They are our mission field. In my next post, I will give 10 characteristics of the Gen Xer that every church needs to consider.

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