Every youth worker's dream is that we are pastoring a generation that will bring revival and be the point of the generational spear for a new spiritual renewal. But, I think this dream is actually hindering our ability to serve this generation as well as hindering our ability to shepherd the gospel through this really challenging and complex time.
Now don't get me wrong, I would love nothing more than for this to happen, but every indicator out there is telling a different story. In 2012 Phillis Tickle wrote an incredible book, Emergence Christianity, and gave some great lectures about the changing culture and how that is changing Christianity.
Her basic premise is that every 500 years there is a revolution in the way that people understand the world on what their foundations of truth are built upon. The last time this happened was during the enlightenment and the protestant reformation. It is truly fascinating and more complex than a little blog has time to go it to. But it did get me thinking . . .
We are in the middle of these revolutionary times. The fundamental ways we understand the world are changing, and changing at such a rapid rate there is no way to process and keep up. The one thing that is clear is that the church is taking it on the chin. Mostly this is because we are longing for something that is impossible.
We long for revival. But what are we reviving? The Christian story is lost, the Judeo-Christian worldview is rapidly becoming a minority worldview. Those who have that memory have been so burned by their fundamentalist parents, or the cultural memory of these people that we are not willing to call our students to "hard-core" discipleship. This is because our own baggage reminds us of the narrow-minded Christianity we are running as fast as we can away from.
This generation of student is in this awful middle time. We have no idea what Christianity is going to look like over the next 40 years. And unfortunately, we will never know until this generation (I am talking about GenZ) grows up and lands in positions of power, in some 30 more years. It is this generation that will usher in a new version of Christianity, separate from the fundamentalist baggage our parent's experiences and those of us who felt the ripples of that era. They will be the ones when they are in their 40's and 50's who will have to discover a new spirituality, a new ethic, and a new discipleship. And it is an unknown.
So what does that mean for us? We can not be naive in the spiritual formation and discipleship of our students. They are growing up in a completely post-Christian context. There is no help from culture, from their parents, and less and less from the church. Many of us youth workers are so busy deconstructing the church and then praying for revival that we end up fully abandoning the true needs of our students.
What this generation needs is its leaders, you and me to be wise, godly and mature leaders to help our students encounter Jesus, and to simply make sure there is a solid foundation. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 3:10 talks about building a firm foundation as a wise builder. We can not get ahead of ourselves. We must quit deconstructing our faith at the expense of our students, but build a foundation as expert builders, so as this generation becomes adults and leaders they will be able to construct a new Christianity and then there will truly be vival. :) . (Get it, not revival, but a new work of God a vive. Is that even a thing?)
I think this is truly hope filled work. Am I wrong?