Authors Hold a Mirror up to a World of the unChristian
- Thursday, October 18, 2007
The real argument that we’re trying to make with this whole project is that without a biblical worldview, without the depth of what it really means to be a Christian (and even with that, we know that even a person with a biblical worldview has doubts and challenges and needs to learn), that this generation won’t last very long with simple cliché answers. A real great example is: 20 years ago, our research shows that atheism and agnostic perspectives were a very small perspective of the population, maybe one-tenth. Now we’re finding that it’s a much larger percentage, and it sticks with people for life. God can do anything in a life, but when a person becomes 18, 20, 21, they’ve got a perspective about life, and so we’re slowly seeing some of the core values of a biblical society, of a transformed life, slip away. So, simple answers aren’t going to work for a complex generation.
Lyons: I think the more we understand the next generation, the more we can learn about ourselves – learn how to connect, ministry methods… There are so many things in ministry specifically that would be changed if people really embraced and understood the context we’re living in. Just like a missionary goes into Cambodia and learns the culture, learns how to better connect there, this [book] is sort of a window into understanding missionally what our culture looks like, and what it likely could look like over the next 10-20 years as a mission field. No great missionary goes into a culture without reading everything they can on that culture so they know how to connect with it.
That’s why it’s important for every generation to know, because their kids, their grandkids – this is the life, these are the friends they’re interacting with. If they say they are Christians, announce it in their high school hallway, the reaction that immediately comes to mind for people is that they’re a judgmental, homophobic, bigoted type of person. So they’re already starting with a negative point of view, and we want to help elevate that to become at least a neutral conversation over the next several years. So the older generation plays a key role in helping the younger generation embrace some new methods and some new ways of connecting – they can really help advocate for it, if they have a better understanding of the reality of the culture.
Kinnaman: To pick up on something that Gabe was saying, it’s the responsibility of older adults. Some of our research that we haven’t released yet shows that older adults – whether it’s generational or just because they're older – have a hard time with having a loving heart, and understanding [the question of] “How can we reconcile a generation that’s different from us,” and esteeming young leaders who are doing things a bit differently but are still passionate about the gospel, saying we’ve got to engage our friends and neighbors differently.
I think the message of this book is like a mirror, saying, “Let’s look at what the future could look like,” and will look like based on this scientific polling. And for an older generation, let’s try to activate your love and concern for [today] in ways that are more visible, not less so. And for a young generation, we hope to also articulate some of the things that they’ve been feeling and sensing about how things have changed, why their friends and peers and co-workers are skeptical and hostile, and why, when they try to steer the conversation and seem to be hitting a roadblock, what some of the barriers are.
Jesus says this really fascinating thing when he talks about hypocrisy. He says, “Not only are you prevented from entering the kingdom of heaven, but you’re preventing other people from entering.” So this idea of “spiritual barriers” is very real, it’s a true factor of our spiritual world, and it’s something Jesus talks about in Matthew 24. This book is designed to help any generation understand what those spiritual barriers might be to seeing Jesus clearly, so that we can be a conduit, as Scripture describes it – a vessel – so that people can see and experience the real Jesus.
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