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Wednesday, September 13, 2006


andy goodliff

I've been involved in writing something that will try and help baptist churches engage more with the 20-something age group. It's control.alt.delete (not my idea) and should be out by christmas. One of the things we've focused on is that during this period of life there are major set of transtions, which have potential for churches to support and help young adults through. I'm not sure it will have the impact I hoped it would (I'd hoped it would start a big conversation in BU churches), but we'll see.


I think that one of the things to hit people as they grow out of youth and into adulthood (varying widely, based on character and circumstances) is having to face up to the harsher sides of reality. You have to pay your own bills, you often have to make your own judgements about whether something, including your work, is good or bad, right or wrong (no more teachers or youth leaders to look up to) and you start to accumulate enough history to feel pangs of nostalgia (although 30- something rather than 20- something, I was noticing this today, driving through a town near where I grew up, listening to music I loved from my late teens and observing all the roads and buildings that had irrevocably changed).

When your boat is being rocked by this and you find that you are becoming the one expected to put on cool and exciting events for other people, no wonder many seem to founder or strike out on different courses.


I am coming to the conclusion more and more, that UK churches need to ignore, or at least heavily season, anything Christian coming out of the US.

NOt because it is inherrently wrong or bad, there is a lot of good stuff being produced. The problem is that the Christian culture in the US is about 2 or 3 generations behind the downward curve that has happened in the UK.

A quick study of the growth of Mars Hill Church(Seattle) shows that there is a huge "market" for picking up disaffected twenty-somethings who have significant residual Christian memory, and an overall positive view of the church and of Christianty. This is clearly very different to the situation in the UK, and yet I have still heard people in the UK promoting Mark Driscoll'c methods for the UK.

There are certainly some significant questions to be asked of the church in terms of generational struggles, particualrly as generations evolve. Gen X'ers are now becoming leaders will this change how church is done, will it be able to retain people in that shift from late teenager to young adult? If we do it by making church cool, then I think we have sold the gospel down the river. The Kingdom might be exciting, it might be dangerous and it is certainly challenging, but cool it's not, and never has been.


soory that became a bit of a rant! ;-)


Thanks one and all gfor your comments.
Andy I look forward to your paper/book (?) when it comes out.
Wulf - I hear what your saying and think that there's a big issue for churches in helping forster a mentoring atmosphere. I think there's a real hunger in 20 & 30 somethings to have someone older, further a long the journey to whom they can relate and connect with.
Glen - feel free to rant. I've tried to argue for a while now that what we need to do in Scotland is stop copying what's happening elsewhere and find out what it means to be a scottish christian in the 21st Cent. Yes we can learn from others, but I sence that there is still an uncritical adoption of models that are not contextually appropriate for the culture here.

Account Deleted

Brodie, think your comments on the Scottish contextual thing are dead on. Not sure though that we understand our own culture(s) enough to understand what that means.

I have also had a sneaking suspicion growing in the past few days that actually perhaps we need a harder and more defined challenge to faith rather than a more 'exciting' programme. Listening to Smithy download from 2004 he spoke about Kate Booth, daughter of Salvation Army founders. Fascinating somewhat controversial character who preached publicly and to great affect in situations of hostility and opposition. She is reported to have said (quoting from memory) words to the effect - 'Don't come to God in order to have peace and happines, but to do his will'. Have stuck this up on my College Noticeboard. Smith also suggested that successful movements for change have actually intensified their demands upon their adherents not lessened them. Am I becoming a traditionalist with such talk - or is it here, in theology, that we need to be making some choices.


Years spent teaching teenagers has shown me this - no matter what we do - no matter how "cool" a programme we put together; no matter how creative we are nor how many culture-current adults we have assisting, some teenagers will still say: "I'm bored/why are we doing this/there's nothing in it for me etc etc"

Like the old advertising maxim goes: you can please some of the teens some of the time.....

I think we need radical followers of Jesus who are prepared to turn programmes on their head because of the passion they have for him. Teens are attracted to passion - check out www.268generation.com.

Is it good programmes and activities we need? Or those role models Brodie mentioned who MODEL lives laid down in service, in hard times as well as good.

Do teenagers love to hear Mike Pilavachi speak? Or Louis Giglio? I think so - and what these two guys have when they speak is "fire in their bones" - strong, firm, words to call and commit, delivered with passion and sincerity.

Check out Duncan Smith from TACF (www.tacf.org) - if you can ever download one of his talks on the need to get in there and do the hard stuff and SERVE in teens and early twenties, you may be like me wanting to stand up there and respond "YES" (altho I'm 15 years too old!)

We've talked in our place about how to intergrate teens/children etc etc - the answer has to be - season your teenage groups with people who have passion, who serve, are accountable and willing to be discipled themselves as they disciple others - that transcends notional barriers of age.

Margaret Sutherland

Interesting stuff! Share the concerns re adopting something from another culture wholesale. It doesn't only happen in "church" - we do the same in education and are then surprised when the latest new "program" doesn't "fix" the kids!
Agree with the comments re passion - this is true not only for teenagers - I'm much more inspired by someone who clearly has a passion for what they're talking about. Maybe all of "church" needs to think about this.

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