I was born in 1973, which puts me smack in the middle of Generation X. People in the church used to talk about Generation X and wring their hands about how we were going to be reached for Jesus. That didn’t last long, because frankly, we’re a relatively puny market segment compared to the Boomers before us and the Millennials after us. So at some point (pretty much after 9/11), the Western church’s attention shifted to the massive cultural shifts occurring in the wider world and – to put it bluntly – how it was going to survive.
As a charismatic / evangelical, I’ve attended more than a few meetings where it was proclaimed from the stage that “This is the generation that will…” see Jesus return, set the church on fire, or merely change the world. In the 90’s it felt good to be a part of a cutting edge generation (Gen-X) that everyone thought would see and do all of the above. But as time went on, it was obvious that it would likely be none of the above. Jesus tarries, the church is still finding its way, and the world has a lot of changing to do yet.
Author Jeff Gordinier says that “GenXers are doing the quiet work of keeping America from sucking.” Maybe there is a corollary to the current state of the church. “This is the generation that will…” quietly act as a bridge between the unfulfilled projects of the previous generation and the starry-eyed dreams of the next. Maybe it will also be the generation that will stop telling the next one that they are the generation that will…well, you fill in the blanks.
As we go about planting a church again in South Florida, it is very important to me that we cultivate an environment that values wisdom and experience as much as youth and passion. I want us to encourage the young and honor the old. The real future of the church does not rest in one generation’s ability to “get it right”. Rather, it is seeing a multi-generational, multi-ethnic church get in line with God’s kingdom and work together for his glory.