Understanding the Gen Xers

10 03 2008

Culturally they are Generation X, the children of baby Boomers. My children are in their mid to late 20’s, smack dab in the middle of this generation. Watching and listening to them ahs taught me much. They grew up in a fundamental Baptist home and church. They attended two different fundamental Baptist schools for 8-12 years. Their father is a graduate of an ultra-conservative fundamentalist Baptist college. My oldest son now lives in the D.C. area, works with college students at American University, and has his finger on the pulse of his generation. He has patiently and lovingly tired to tell me just how deficient my training and experience has been in reaching his generation with the gospel. Let me present 10 discoveries I have made in my search for an understanding of those in Generation X. Please realize that there will always be exceptions to these observations or those whose circumstances have given them a different mindset.
CONSIDERATIONS OF GEN X
1. Generally believe in God, but have a negative stereotype of Christians.
They were taught this stereotype from TV programs, Christian leaders who “fell from grace”, radical who burn down abortion clinics, and self-righteous believers who do not reflect Christ. They are paranoid of elected officials who are Christians if faith overrules common sense and common good.
2. View the church as closed minded and “right wing”
The church is often viewed as the political base of the Republican Party. It is no longer known for its love (John 13:25) nor for its influence on morality, it is known for its politics.
3. Absolute truth is a matter of opinion
They are wary of people who believe that their way is the only way. They would give you the liberty to believe what you choose, as long as you give them the same liberty.
4. Critical of people who condemn the lifestyles of others,
They see themselves as guardians of the rights of others. People have the right to be gay, or live together without being married, or be pro-abortion, or anti-military, or the freedom of Internet porn. They believe that Bible- thumping preachers in evangelical churches promote intolerance.
5. Cynical of people with a vision for the future
They have a very dim view of the future and anyone who believes otherwise has their head in the sand. With a constant exposure by the media of humanity at its worst, they not only have no hope in humanity, but also realize that may be the next victim of someone’s depravity.
6. Distrust authority, believing they have a hidden agenda
Leaders are scrutinized today more than ever. Everything is recorded; their lives are on open book to the public magnifying glass. So many times, they only leaders they see are involved in scandal. They then assume that those who aspire to leadership are power-hungry, selfish, ladder climbers. They have no heroes.
7. See more value in relationships than in individualism.
The era of the “Marlboro man” is over. They don’t even know who he is. Gen Xers find their security and meaning within a small group of trusted friends. Real trailblazers are rare because of the reality of offending someone or being sued.
8. Do not respond well to pressure for them to accept God
The soul-winning techniques of previous generations don’t cut it. Button-holing people and pushing for a quick decision just won’t work. “I don’t even know you, and want me to trust what you say?”
9. Want to see your life before they hear of your beliefs.
They want to see your compassion for the poor. They want to see you volunteer for a humanitarian type project on the city. They want to see you protecting the environment that your say God created. They want to see if you practice what you preach, if you display humility, patience, mercy, and honesty about your weaknesses.
10. Learned to look for flaws in others as a way to justify their own.
They do not accept blame because so and so doses the same thing. They are quick to point out hypocrisy in others while overlooking their own.

A little intimidating isn’t it? Perhaps frustrating. Next post, I want to share ideas on how to approach this generation Its not as impossible as you may think.

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