For those who missed it, here is the link to Born and Raised Part 1: My Story
One day this summer while perusing the internet for content while in my internship, I came across this article. Curious, I was surprised at how well Rachael Held Evans expressed many of the things that were on my heart.
I love my home church dearly, and am blessed by the members of my congregation. A few months back, our church invited a team trained in church health assessment to come into our congregation and listen to the individuals that make up our body. It gave an opportunity for congregants to express what the church did well, what it meant to them, as well as offer constructive criticism. We were given a safe place, an opening to sit down with people who came with the singular purpose to listen, and then pray with us.
It pains me to know that not everyone has such an opportunity in their own church, or an open enough relationship with their pastoral staff to express their concerns, or even encouragement. I know that this is something that falls across all generations and all denominations, but in my experience I know that my generation can feel frustrated and unheard.
Generation Y is often labelled as lazy, privileged, and naive. We can at times feel ostracized, undervalued and brushed aside by those older than us. We want to be heard, and to be understood. Here is a list of things that I hear my generation trying to say:
1. Unity and community is important to us. In a self-serving culture, we are intrigued by the idea of interdependence, and recognize the power of cooperation.
2. We don’t want pretty, we want authentic. Please understand that our generation isn’t looking for stylized worship, or updated anything. We want real people, having real conversations.
3. Jesus doesn’t need you to make him “more attractive” to our generation, so please don’t try. Raw faith and devotion are powerful.
4. We see value in intergenerational interaction. We learn by examples set, we want to help give the upcoming generations a community of faith.
5. Mentorship and discipleship are Biblical and extremely valuable.
6. Please stop brushing over ‘taboo’ topics. We are not afraid to have conversations about homosexuality, sexuality, consumerism, and whatever else we’ve avoided talking about. We understand when things are black and white, but we want to address grey areas.
7. We want to pursue a life that reflects Jesus, and break down stereotypes of Christianity that He broke himself.
8. Social justice is important to us. It’s not a fad. Please join the fight!
9. Science and religion are not mutually exclusive. The academic community can make those who are a part of any religion feel less intelligent and less credible. Please don’t help them by inferring our faith is any less because we “believe in science.”
10. We aren’t perfect. You aren’t perfect. Can we just put down the masks and be an imperfect, Christ-seeking people together?
11. Doubts are healthy. We cannot find answers if we don’t ask questions. Please be patient with us.
12. We’re sorry if we’ve made you feel like we judge you and your ‘style’ of Christianity. We sometimes forget that traditions have value in our pursuit of authenticity.
13. We secretly find comfort in traditions, but are scared of the mundane pattern of routine and simply going through the motions. Balance is hard!
14. There is no cookie cutter calling, and we want to find ways to use our unique giftings to serve. Sometimes it takes us a little while to figure out what that looks like. Romans 12:3-8
15. Personal and worshipful expression are important to us. I don’t want to be distracting from your communion with God, but dancing before the Lord is Biblical… As is using any of our gifts to honour him. We’d love the opportunity to share with you.
16. If we hope to grow to be more like Christ, re-evaluation is key. How do the actions and values of our churches hold up against the standard set by God’s Word? How can we improve and move forward?
In conclusion, I think the biggest idea here is authenticity, a desire not exclusive to my generation. In a world of auto-tuning, Photoshop and the occasional conspiracy theory, we crave authenticity. We want people to be real with us. We don’t want manufactured, happy, stamped out answers to our questions. We want truth, and we won’t settle for less.
These aren’t meant to be hard criticisms, and I don’t claim to speak for every individual, but these are honest personal feelings and impressions I’ve gained in the different young adult/youth gatherings I’ve been involved with. I’d love the input of any fellow Gen Y’ers reading this, or responses from anyone in particular. Thank you for “listening” and being a part of this conversation.