Years ago, I heard a podcast where someone lifted up some questions.
He was making a claim that as Americans come into adulthood, they ask different questions of Christianity, depending on the generation of which they are a part. He borrowed this idea without mentioning the source, so unfortunately, I don’t know where these thoughts originate. But these questions resonate with my experience, and I’d like to share them with you.
He says that Baby Boomers have asked this primary question:
Is it true?
Does Christianity make sense? Is it logical? Is this something I can reasonably put my trust in? These are also questions of Modernism.
He says that people from Generation X have asked this primary question:
Is it real?
Can Christianity make a real difference in our real lives? Is it concerned with things that matter? Can it be present to our real, authentic struggles?
And right now, he says that Millennials are asking this primary question:
Is it good?
Is Christianity a force for good in the world, or is it mainly causing harm? Will I harm myself or my neighbors by engaging Christianity?
Certainly, none of these questions are limited internally to any one generation. Lots of people are asking them. Maybe you, the reader of this post, are asking them too.
And this last perspective — Is it even good? — is one that we Christians must ponder internally and confessionally without defensiveness. What has happened that so many people have experienced tangible harm in the wake of Christian communities?
How will we listen to that harm?
How will make amends for it?
How will we reconcile ourselves to these realities and then, if possible, to our neighbors?
I’m reminded that in its origin, Christianity is about the proclamation and the enactment of good news. Perhaps we can proclaim some of that good news with a listening posture, honoring the worth of people who have ample reason to ask such a question. And perhaps we can enact some of that good news by practicing a different way.
This post is part of a series. Feel free to read the other posts from this week as well:
Themes of Church Departure: 1) Community and Judgment
Themes of Church Departure: 2) Activity and Bureaucracy
Themes of Church Departure: 3) Conversation and Doctrine
Themes of Church Departure: 4) Meaningful Ministry and Moral Prescription