We might express concern for Generation X, but are we truly demonstrating the Christian Gospel to them asks GLENN KAISER, senior pastor at Chicago's Jesus People USA and founder member of the Resurrection Band.
This past month brought me to England and Scotland to spend time with the leadership of British Youth For Christ. Meeting with old friends as well as (hopefully) making new ones was a treat. The meetings were wonderful on several levels.
Personal conversations, teaching and worship were edifying, not least in part because there was an all-pervading sense of "we want MORE koinonia, MORE reality, MORE sensitivity in ministry for ourselves and for those we serve". God is clearly working in the leadership sphere, promoting growth through humility. This is certainly an attitude through which the Spirit can bless as we serve those in need.
In the last day spent together before I was to leave for Scotland (a land I dearly love), the Lord brought my mind around to something I am still working through. Because it relates to believers on both sides of the Big Pond, I share it with you here. Judge it biblically and, in terms of your own life, honestly.
Many of us have failed to live out - actually model - a biblical standard of life for the next generation. Specifically in the areas of general lifestyle, (economics, materialism, creature comforts) and personal standards, (integrity, holiness). In that we have been sinfully lacking in being living examples (living sacrifices?) of godliness for the present generation, and yes, our sons and daughters. I offer a few practical solutions. They are in fact what I am continuously convicted about in my own life:
1. Ask God's forgiveness and mercy
2. Wash the feet of so-called "Generation X"
3. Radically, scripturally re-structure our lives and homes in the areas of personal character, relationships and economics
The first point is obvious. If we have sinned, we have ultimately
brought God pain due to our selfish thoughts and actions. Telling God,
ourselves and others the truth in repentance is certainly the
beginning of change for the better.
The third point is the practical "fleshing out" of the second point. As we admit to God and our children that we have truly failed to live consistently Christ-centred lives, and on the other end, make daily amends in the areas I have listed, the signals they are searching for will indeed find them. They will hardly have to look. Stark love has a powerful way of penetrating a person's defences. And then it is up to them to respond as they will.
As it seemed God pressed this idea of my own generation actually "washing the feet" of the "Xers", key issues loomed:
Foundations - the centrality of truth, integrity, honesty, a brutal clinging to facts, to what IS -versus - What we have selfishly dreamt up and desired simply in order to fulfil our own lusts
We criticise and scoff at a generation criticising and scoffing at our own lack of biblical moral ambition. We deride their "quick-fix" "feel-good" lack of commitment to anything while on our way to the divorce court. They dare to dream of a more balanced world where opportunity and not only poverty is equally available to people without regard to sex, race or class. We cling to our "good old boy networks" of safe (read that "unchallenging") relationships where the choir consistently agrees with our own vision of excess. Need I go on?
In a word, if "hypocrisy" fits, wear it. If we will own our own sin, begin to deal in repentant fashion with it, take simple steps of accountability (in actual practice, not only mental concept) and publicly MOVE on these issues in our own lives... they will listen because they will SEE in our daily practice the revolutionary and sustaining power of God. This generation is in desperate need of a daily, ongoing demonstration from those in the churches - especially leaders - of what it means to be Faithful and True.
In view of what they have been taught by many of our choices and actions, is it any wonder why they doubt our professed version of reality? Is it not yet clear that much of our preaching is perceived as what it truly has in fact become: propagandistic rhetoric?
By God's grace we may yet earn a very coveted position, certainly coveted by those who realise that "ministry" involves honest, humble "service": we may be allowed to offer a helping hand toward those to whom we gave birth.The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
View all articles by Glenn Kaiser