Tuesday, April 03, 2007

GenX

We just got back from a week in Washington DC visiting family. It only took a day there for me to be starkly reminded of just how little contact I have with people of my generation on a general basis. I think in the four days we spent there I spent more time around people my own age than I have in Coos Bay in the last nine months.

Of course, at the church here, where I spend most of my time, there is no one in our age category. Besides Melissa and I, there is nobody between the few middle/high schoolers that we have and their parents. And I'm pretty sure I closer in age to the high school freshman than I am to their parents. The vast majority of people at the church are already retired, with most of our visitors being newly retired people moving into the area.

The community at large isn't a whole lot better. It's been steadily aging. In the last 12 years they've closed half of the schools in the area because of lack of enrollment. There aren't a lot of jobs. Most people are graduating high school and moving to Eugene or Portland.

And I've become to used to this situation now that it rather shocked me when we went to DC and things were different. Suddenly I could speak normally and people knew what I was talking about. When I made little humorous side comments, people understood them. They had a working knowledge of things like pop culture, technology, even international news. I felt like I belonged, like I wasn't just some cooky weirdo, which I'm realizing is how I feel most of the time in Coos Bay.

I came out of seminary believing that the church needed to be more experienctial, more participatory, more spiritual, able to relate to emerging world. I thought that people needed to find meaning out of their harried and hum-drum lives, that they needed to be given permission to question the way that faith has been delivered, that they need to find ways to be a Christian without being the self-centered, money-grabbing, self-righteous, hypocritical, bigotted moralists that seem to have hijacked the Christian agenda in America. I thought people were struggling with the immorality of corporations, the inter-religious issues associated with our pluralistic world, the need to find connection in an increasingly individualistic society.

Now what I'm finding is that these issues and questions are virtually irrelavent here. My entire sense of the need of humanity and ways that God is acting and reaching out to meet those needs is irrelavent. And thus that means that my own spiritual need, my own theological cravings, my own deep yearnings for God are irrelavent.

And I think that it is largely a generational issue. For the last 7 years I've been pressed to find ways that the church can be relavent to young adults, only to find now that young adults seem to be irrelavent to the church.

6 Comments:

Blogger DogBlogger said...

Don't know if y'all would find it beneficial, other than for the sense of connection, but you might want to consider coming to this event next month...
www.generationxy.org

7:21 AM  
Anonymous Brian said...

David,

You're right - for all of the talk, I think the UMC (and probably most of the other mainline denominations) aren't really prepared to deal with the world. For the most part we do church pretty much like it was done in the 1950s.

I'll write more about this on my blog.

Brian

10:39 AM  
Anonymous Mary Ann said...

Wow, that sounds frustrating. And I doubt it's any help to you to hear that you remind me how blessed I am in the age spread in our comunity and church. :/

What do you find your community wanting/needing? I'm not asking this in an advice-y way. I'm just wanting to know.

My guys are learning how to continue working together while in open disagreement. Or so I fondly hope. :D

9:21 AM  
Blogger david said...

Yeah, I'm still working on what they're wanting/needing. The biggest need I saw coming was for vision. Some vision is starting to emerge, but I think we still need a lot of work there. It takes time.

7:06 PM  
Anonymous Cara said...

The funny thing about young adult issues is that generally the church talks more about acquiring the young then it does about incorporating them into the church. The church wants (and needs) more young adults but it insists that they fit into the current member's worship style and not question existing practices. The problem often isn't with getting young adults into the church but keeping them there. If you felt unwanted, disrespected, and not considered to have a valuable opinion, would you stick around?

4:28 PM  
Blogger david said...

That certainly has been the experience for many young adults. I've definitely noticed that in other ministry setting I've been in. Here in Coos Bay, we hardly ever even get a young adult visitor, so it's a little different vibe.

4:24 PM  

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