How Might We Reach This Generation of Young People, Part Two?

I used to really enjoy the AMC original series, Mad Men, but, after a few seasons, I lost interest. I am not sure if the writer’s depiction of the 1960s is perfectly accurate, but one scene resonated with my own imagination of what that era might have been like, and how it differs from our world today.

I do not remember the season, episode, or even the context of the scene, but I do remember thinking how strange it seemed to me in my own context. In short, two men in their office building, during work hours mind you, break out into a pretty serious fistfight.  After the scuffle goes on for a while, making a lot of disruptive noise, the boss breaks into the main office room where these two were fighting, and, upon his arrival, they stop.

 In our own day, both of these men would be fired on the spot. The company would go into preservation mode as news spread through the community. It would be called an “isolated incident” that does not reflect the nature of the company. One or both of the men that fought might be arrested, and one or both might try to sue the other. It more than certainly would be made into a bigger deal than it started as.

 This is not what happens in the show. Instead, the boss asks whether or not they resolved their differences, and everyone gets back to work, the two men shaking hands and going on about their day like nothing happened. This scene reflected something of the truth of modernism and its juxtaposition with postmodernity.  We are certainly not who we were in yesteryear.

 Evangelism in this day and time was very much like the scene in Mad Men. In that day, people would see evangelical admonition from a yelling preacher as the lesson they had coming to them, just as they saw a fistfight as a way to work out differences. Sure, there are still persons that respond well to a little scuffle and there are persons that respond well to a bit of disciplinary preaching, but overall, it’s just not as effective as it used to be.

 Now, I would not jump out of one ditch just to fall headlong into the other, with messages like we get from persons like Joel Osteen. However, as I argued in my last post, we need to be able to prove our side, not through tough love, but through humility and understanding. Meek love is not tough love, but it is strong love. It takes courage to be who you are called to be without being insulted when others aren’t living as they are called. And we not only need to live this example in our private lives. Our nation is having a conversation, and the church has something to say.

 We must be submissive vessels of grace before we can be effective vessels for change or correction. In the public sphere, we often see Christians arguing for what they believe to be right. In the political arena, many Christians call for legislation that would either keep the status quo—hindering others from some transgression, real or perceived, that they are wanting to be free to engage in—or would engineer outward social righteousness—which would, in many cases, produce nothing more than white washed tombs.

 The debates rise in temperature quickly, and anger ensues rapidly when each side does not get its respective way. Like many objects exposed to extreme heat, those not insulated by grace harden, and rigidity sets in. Their causes becomes cold causes, causes fought out of spite and not love. At all cost, these people will have their way, or they will burn out trying. In this, many have lost all effectiveness.

 Have we forgotten that without grace, no change is possible? This is not simply to suggest that we remain humble, forever recognizing that God is sovereign and in control of the situation, but it is also a call to action, a call for us to remember that we have a duty to show grace as our Lord has shown us grace. We are in some sense and by some degree His means of grace in the world. We are His salt and light in a dark, tasteless, and decaying word.

If we want others to be transformed, not simply because we want to control the world and have an engineered, pseudo-peace, but because we actually care for the lost ones, then we will first need to demonstrate grace before we act to see change happen. Grace always goes before. If it does not, any change will not be lasting.

 Moreover, this does not simply happen in public, but also happens in the heart first and foremost. Check your heart the next time you see the representative “opponents” of whatever issue or issues it is you are concerned about. Take stock of your feelings as you hear these “others” lobbying for their side on the news channel or social media. What feelings fill your heart? What words come to mind? What is it that you wish for them? Are you filled with compassion or malice? Do you say of them that they are precious souls in need of help, or do you call them fools, or worse? Do you want them to know peace or would you rather see some sort of vendetta visited upon them?

 If your heart overflows with negativity, perhaps it is you whom you need to work on. If it is love that you feel, remember how to love them. We, the representatives of Christ in the midst of this present evil age, influence, not by power struggles, but by service. When was the last time you served those who you wish to see transformed?

How Might We Reach This Generation of Young People?

I was having a discussion this morning with a peer in ministry, and we were discussing the attitudes of young persons today. I know that I could still be considered a young person myself, but we were specifically talking about college-aged persons who are now somewhere between six to ten years younger than myself, give or take.

He just kept using the term “apathy.” He said, “It is as if they just do not care about anything anymore.” He mentioned that when we were in college, “doubt” seemed to be the big issue that ministry was trying to overcome, but, now, it is lack of belief in anything, a sort of nihilistic malaise. However, I do not think it is apathy that defines this new generation, nor is it doubt, as it might have been years ago. It is distrust.

We are living in an age that has created and sustained things like infowars.com, a website that is intended to question every news story delivered and proffer an alternative story. This generation is addicted to reddit.com, and, while reddit is many things for many people, it serves the young generation as a place to stir the pot, to discuss all the ills of society and promote unrest in the hearts of the community as they accept any conspiracy theory that comes down the pike. This is the generation that hates both parties of the political system. This is the generation that is leaving home and their faith background, not because they feel doubtful, but because they feel pain, and I am not saying all this is unwarranted, mind you.  This is what we have come to call the age of Postmodernism.

The tide has shifted, and modernity and all the tactics to influence modern thinkers no longer work on this generation. Give a modern thinker a dose of intellectual objectivity in a forceful debate style, and they might say, “Hey, you know what? I like you.” Yell your “objective” claims at a postmodern and they will walk away faster than you can say, “What’s your problem?”

This generation has seen a collapse of empire in many ways. America is not the shining star among the nations as it once was. The church of Christendom has been so domesticated that it is losing adherents daily, and on a global scale, with all the “United Nations” coming together, we still hate each other, and terrorism is a word heard daily. To these persons, truth claims are simply lies, power struggles for who gets to control the masses.

Distrust starts off so small. Let’s use the beloved platform of The Echo Life as an example: Christians promote life and health. We preach that the body is the temple of God and that it should be treated with respect. Moms and dads tell their children to respect themselves when they go off to college. Don’t put harmful “stuff” in your body. But, when they go to church, what do they see? A bunch of overfed temples. What are they to assume? They assume that the church does not take its claims seriously. So, if it is not about faith for the church, what is it about? Their assumption, “It’s all for control.” We are promoting our happy little world as we want it to be.

How do we show the postmodern college kid that Christianity is not just another ploy to control his or her life, that it is not about oppressing the way he or she thinks and lives, but about freedom? We have to live in submission to our own claims fist. We have to say, “Watch, I will practice what I preach before I ever ask you to join, and I will show you it is not fake.” We must demonstrate the freedom of walking in Christ offers from the real oppressions of life. We will talk more about this next week, but ask yourself, “Am I a good representative of the Kingdom for this young generation who needs our love and not just our arguments for what is right and what is wrong?”

Miley…Robin…and the Big Mac

What can we learn from Miley, Robin and the Big Mac???

We’d be hard pressed to find any blog or talking head that has not talked about MTV’s VMAs from a week ago.  First off, I have no intentions of getting on a high horse about MTV or Miley or bemoaning how far society has fallen (please note the sarcasm in that last phrase…).  This is not one more blog jumping on the bandwagon.  I am much more appalled at too many pastors’ responses and enjoyment of casting verbal stones her way as if John 8 never happened.  Not to mention how heartbreaking it is that no one seems concerned about the backup dancers who have been dancing and over sexualized for decades.  Or the atrocity that no one seemed upset with the male on stage!?!  But I digress…. Continue reading

Is Wile E. Coyote’s Heaven for real?

As a kid, nothing made me happier than early Saturday morning cartoons.  I loved waking up early and watching as many as my parents would allow. 

wile_e_coyote_gravity

Who didn’t love the epic battles between Tom and Jerry or the Roadrunner and ole’ Wile E. Coyote?!?  Nothing says children’s entertainment like violent cartoon characters finding creative ways to kill each other. 

This is not a critique of children’s entertainment at all.  I just wonder if our theology has outgrown our childish TV shows.  I cannot remember a single episode where at some point someone died and their angelic, opaque spirit, complete with wings and a harp, drifted towards the clouds and heaven.  Does our theology look any different or do we still hope and pray for our spirits to drift towards a heavenly bliss when we die?  Continue reading

Developing Our Christian Ethic: Breaking Free From the Norm.

Kodiak_Island_bisonAt the core of what we do here at The Echo Life is our Christian ethic. We would not be promoting a holistic Christian life if we merely saw it as a good idea. No. The reason we preach what we preach is because we feel an ethical sense of duty to promote Christianity as a faith that speaks to the deepest areas of our life. More to the point, we see our faith as something that penetrates every area of life, from the extraordinary to the most ordinary. We have to be able to open our hearts and our faith to the reality that Christianity is bigger than we often allow it to be. For the Christian, it should be everything, but we have often used it only when we think we need it, only when we think our morality needs to be introduced to the situation. In everything else, we simply follow the heard. Continue reading

Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right (Pt. 2)

Part Two: Antinomianism

 While there is no new heresy under the sun, the heresy of antinomianism had its biggest hay day in rather recent history, namely right after the Reformation. It has always had its adherents, perhaps not calling it by name, and it continues explicitly or implicitly in the minds of many Christians today. But the Reformers had the biggest battle with persons trying to pervert their message so as to have their cake and eat it too.

Continue reading

God Bless America?

So many of our conversations so far have been directed at our own health.  How can we become more healthy?  Why should we care about obesity or diabetes or what have you as it relates to a faithful way of life?  These are all excellent questions and I don’t disagree with any of them…I just wonder if we have tunnel vision.  Have we become so focused on our own situations that we have lost sight of the world around us? Continue reading

Food For Thought…(1/2/12…New Year’s Resolutions)

Food for thoughtBack in November we released an article, “Think Your Way To A Leaner Body.” While the title might seem to reflect some new meditating technique, titles are often never what they seem on The Echo Life. Instead of meditation, this article explored more of an ethical issue, rather than a physical one. In the end, the argument was made that we cannot just “do” things to change. We must “be” or at least “become,” by the power of grace, what we wish to be before we can do what we wish to be. Continue reading

Creation Care: Part 2-Worldview

CreationFirst, I realize that I am arguing from and not to my worldview. In this essay I will be starting with presumptions that are dependent on arguments elsewhere, but arguments not primarily concerned with the topic at hand. In short, I will be assuming the biblical view that God is our creator is a correct view, and the neo-Darwinian view is false. While you might wish to argue these points elsewhere, for the sake of discussion, let’s assume this to be true so that we might explore the implications. Continue reading