Tuesday, January 17, 2017
1. Let’s return to the way teens and young adults express their disconnection from the Christian community: you lost me. When someone uses this idiom, they are suggesting that something hasn’t translated, that the message has not been received. Wait, I don’t understand. You lost me. This is what many Mosaics are saying to the church. As we’ll see in this chapter, it’s not that they’re not listening; it’s that they can’t understand what we are saying.
- When and where have you experienced this with Mosaics/others?
2. Busters learned to use technology as an ally against the Boomers’ influence and control; if they could master technology, they had a strategic advantage. Mosaics, however, have been raised with these technologies in full supply, and that reality is facilitating new patterns of learning, relating, and influencing the world, as well as changing the way they think about church and Christianity. Technological access allows them to experience and examine content originating from nonbiblical worldviews, giving them ample reasons to question the nature of truth. It generates extraordinary distractions and invites them to be less linear and logical in their thought processes. It empowers them to think as participants, not just as consumers, of media. And it makes them both more connected & more isolated than generations before.
- Where do find such connection & isolation in family & friends?
3. The second seismic cultural shift is how alienated today’s teens and young adults feel from the structures that undergird our society. We might think of alienation as very high levels of isolation from family, community, and institutions. Alienation is rooted in the massive social changes that began in the 1960s; the drama of dislocation unfolding in the Mosaic generation is taking place on a stage set by the Baby Boomers.
- What’s different now compared to the 1960s? How are young adults alienated in family, in adulthood, and in institutions?
4. There is both good news and bad news for the church with regard to young adults’ alienation from what used to be normative in our society.
The bad news is that, where congregations and parishes are structured to meet the needs of the “old normal,” it will be difficult for young people to find a meaningful place. The good news, however, is that the church is uniquely called to be the community of God— and true, authentic community banishes isolation, loneliness, and alienation and replaces them with love.
- What will have to change about how we “do ministry” to meet the needs of the “new normal?”
5. The changing spiritual narrative in North America is the third factor in our culture’s discontinuity from previous eras. Let’s call this skepticism of authority – new questions about who to believe and why. However, there is a new spiritual narrative on the rise that says Christianity is no longer the “default setting” of American society. The Christian faith exerted significant influence on our culture in previous generations, but much of that public role has dissipated during the past 130-plus years – the acceleration of those secularizing effects has been felt strongly in the last fifty.
- Specifically, how are the three arenas of Scripture, Christianity & Culture, and Christian Influencers impacted by their skepticism?
6. Let’s summarize the challenges and opportunities created by each of these new cultural factors:
Access. Few would debate that we live in a knowledge economy, in a creative age, powered by science-fiction– like technologies.
- Will the Christian community connect meaningfully with the generation growing up in this context?
Alienation. We are conducting a real-time experiment with relationships, family bonds, and institutional reinventions.
- Will the Christian community cultivate a presence-centered approach to developing young people, bringing us out of our isolation and alienating pragmatism?
Authority. The spiritual narrative of our culture has shifted— slowly in places, quickly in others— toward secularism and away from the Bible and Christianity.
- Will the Christian community see skepticism of authority as an opportunity or as a threat?
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
1. In this chapter, I want to accomplish two things: define the dropout problem and interpret its urgency. A clear understanding of the dropout phenomenon will set the stage for our exploration of young adults’ faith journeys.
- Does a dropout problem exist? If so, for what reasons do so many spiritually active teenagers put their faith— or at least their connection to a church— on the shelf as they reach adulthood?
- Why do young people raised in “good Christian homes” wander as young adults?
2. The ages eighteen to twenty-nine are the black hole of church attendance; this age segment is “missing in action” from most congregations. Overall, there is a 43 percent drop-off between the teen and early adult years in terms of church engagement. These numbers represent about eight million twentysomethings who were active churchgoers as teenagers but who will no longer be particularly engaged in a church by their thirtieth birthday.
- What is your reaction to this statistic?
3. One of the things we learned from this research is that there is more than one way to drop out and more than one way to stay faithful. Every person goes on a unique journey related to his or her faith and spirituality, and every story matters. The reasons young people drop out, as similar to each other as they may seem, are very real and very personal to those who experience them. We discovered in our research that there are three broad ways of being lost:
- Nomads walk away from church engagement but still consider themselves Christians.
- Prodigals lose their faith, describing themselves as “no longer Christian.”
- Exiles are still invested in their Christian faith but feel stuck (or lost) between culture and the church.
- Review each of these types. How do you perceive them?
- Can you identify persons close to you who relate to one or all of these types? What are their individual stories?
4. Like a Geiger counter under a mushroom cloud, the next generation is reacting to the radioactive intensity of social, technological, and religious changes. And for the most part, we are sending them into the world unprepared to withstand the fallout. Too many are incapable of reasoning clearly about their faith and unwilling to take real risks for Christ’s sake. These shortcomings are indicators of gaps in disciple making. There are three central arenas where these gaps are in evidence— and where the church has God-given opportunities to rethink our approach.
1. Relationships. Can the church rediscover the intergenerational power of the assembly of saints?
2. Vocation. Can the Christian community summon the courage to prepare a new generation of professionals to be excellent in their calling and craft, yet humble and faithful where God has asked them to serve?
3. Wisdom. How can the Christian community help young Christians live wisely in a culture of mental, emotional, and spiritual distraction?
5. Why should we concern ourselves with the faith journeys of young adults? Why does all this matter?
- First, it’s a matter of heart. The spiritual lives of millions of young people are at stake. That fact, in and of itself, should be reason enough to care.
- Second, awareness of young adults’ faith journeys is a matter of accuracy. Without accurate information, Christians have a choice to ignore or minimize the dropout problem or to sensationalize it. Neither approach is right or helpful.
- Third, it’s an issue of responsibility. I am not writing this book to blame anyone for the state of the next generation or of the church. We all have a part to play, young and old, churched or prodigal.
- Caring about the faith journeys of young adults is, finally, a matter of leadership.
- Discuss each of these responses and why they matter.