A good percentage of us boomers who came to faith in Christ in our teens are the the Jesus Movement‘s direct offspring. But we know that our offspring are increasingly distancing themselves from the kind of faith practice that grew in the rock-n-roll soil of this hippie-style revival. (Check out the trippy chart accompanying this sad, sobering blog post that tells the story of nextgen faith migration.)
So I wonder…what is the legacy of the Jesus Movement?
Church buildings that look like corporate office parks and function like religious community centers?
A presentation of the gospel that relies more on making the sale instead of changing a life?
A faddish approach to Christian spirituality that generates a lot of sprinters but relatively few marathoners?
One leader after another after another caught in sexual sin?
Goosebumps as a spiritual gift?
The desire to experience Malachi 4:6 in our families without anyone to show us how because we’d learned that no one over 30 (“suits” and authority figures) was to be trusted?
The Republican Party?
Lifestyles that mirror the ugliest parts of our culture instead of the counter-culture that initially beckoned us?
Power hoarded and spent on ourselves?
My soul cries out, “I don’t want my faith in Christ to be a hiccup in the long history and future of my family, a one-generation “experience”, an abberation. This is not what I signed up for.”
Asaph the psalmist, sang these words as a declaration to the generation up and down the line from himself. This song is a bit of an antithesis to Jesus Movement values:
O my people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in parables,I will utter hidden things, things from of old-what we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us.We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD,his power, and the wonders he has done. (Ps.78:1-4)
A few weeks ago at a local prayer conference, I had the privilege of teaching a workshop on the parable of the persistent widow. About 75% of the people in my workshop were there because they had prodigal kids. Maybe a better way to put it was that there were a lot of us in that room whose kids weren’t buying the kind of faith our generation has been peddling. The sobering reality that the malnourished generation behind us is eschewing the empty calories of boomer faith culture and is in search of something substantial. Something like the kind of sustenance Asaph encouraged his peers to feed to their children: parables, testimonies, demonstrations of God’s power. The call was to introduce children to the wonder of God Himself instead of a diet of spiritual Twinkies, disposable trinkets and forgettable experiences.
At times, I have been guilty in my own family of participating and promoting Christian sub-culture instead of Christ – and I grieve this. I mourn my willingness to be parented by my peers (a core value of the Jesus Movement) instead of learning to be a part of a kindgom community with older, wiser voices who could sing Asaph’s lyrics in my life. And at the same time, I bless the work of the Spirit, the messy and miraculous way He was moving among an entire generation of lost children like me.
As I move toward my 50th birthday, I wish only one gift for my kids and for all of their generation: Faith that will save them from their sins, and from the consequences of ours.
Agree? Disagree? Why?
2 thoughts on “Talkin’ `bout my/your generation”
This past Sunday I confirmed my 25th confirmation class of nine students. Looking at each of them in the eye as they confessed at the altar “I promise to remain faithful to my dear Lord Jesus Christ until the end in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” After receiving a verse from Scripture I say to each of them individually “Remain faithful to Christ for all time.” I have seen many grow others struggle and sadly a few walk away.
One faithful member once commented to me “we are always one generation away from being apostate.” Sad yet true. This has always haunted me as a pastor husband and father. I am grateful that my children have each found a parish while at college and have grown spiritually and remained faithful. I pray that they would not look at my failures, shortcomings, hypocrisy and sins.
Just prior to the start of the service one of my confirmands asked me, ‘pastor how does communion taste?” I replied “forgiven!” We serve a compassionate Savior who is able to do far more abundantly then we can ask. His mercy sustains me.
“Forgiven!” Beautifully put.
It is true that God has no grandchildren, and I am hopeful that those who struggle with some of the current expressions of church will find their way through the trees and realize they’re in the forest.
I am glad there are pastors like you, willing to look each confirmand in the eye year after year after year and demonstrate faithfulness by being there for the long haul.