Meanderings of a Minister


The World Is Changing According to David Kinnaman
December 23, 2011, 1:52 pm
Filed under: Book Review

Duh!

Now that we have stated the obvious, you might be thinking, “Tell me something I don’t already know.”  While most of us know that our world is changing, it seems that those in the church don’t fully grasp this.  We say we know that the world is changing, but most of us, if we are honest, feel threatened by this change because we think, and rightly so, that we believe an unchanging message from an unchanging God.  So, how does an unchanging message and an unchanging God meet a changing world?  Actually, not all that differently than we have been for centuries.

David Kinnaman, in his book You Lost Me:  Why Young Christians Are Leaving the Church…, says there are three main areas of change that the newest generation of Christians is experiencing.  They are access, alienation and authority.  Some of this is new and some is not, but they are all changes and are changing faster and faster.

First, Kinnaman suggests that this generation has access to more and more information.  Think about the literally billions and billions of articles, songs, videos, pictures, stories, etc., that are on the internet.  Some of this is good stuff and some is not.  Of that there is no question.  But not all is bad.  What makes this a changing and challenging situation is that this generation has access to all of this information, but no framework from which to evaluate the information they intersect.  There is no one to tell them if a story is true.  There is no one to tell them if something is fact or fiction or opinion or even a well-calculated misrepresentation of facts to produce a desired response.

Second, Kinnaman says that this generation is facing alienation like no other generation.  At first, I thought he must be mistaken because this generation is always texting, talking on the phone, emailing, involved in school activities, etc.  Kinnaman makes sense when he says they are more connected than any other generation in history, via the technological access they enjoy, but they are also the most disconnected because many of these “connections” are not personal.  Because much of their connections are virtual, they can create any version of themselves they would like and, due to number one above, there is no way to hold them accountable.  When you factor into this the number of single parent families (actually now more likely than two parent families), blended families in which there is no joint parenthood for children, two-income families that require both parents to work and leave children unattended, the number of adults that consider children an interruption of their social or professional goals, the waiting to have children until lives are more settled, and a number of other factors, this alienation is understood.

Lastly, he states that this generation does not just have a mistrust of authority, although this is understandable, given the sexual, physical, emotional and mental abuse in the world today.  This generation simply has a disregard for authority.  They do not dislike it.  It just doesn’t matter.  Because they are taught to take in information without a framework to judge its authenticity, they can simply change to another authority source that more closely matches their desires.  Often, this is seen in their establishment of a tribe of friends to which they submit their life decisions and choices.

Given these factors, what is the church to do to reach out to this generation?  Do we throw in the towel?  Not if you care about your children, grandchildren or great grandchildren.  What do we do?  What can we do?  What can God do?  Let’s look at this next week.

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