April 20th 2013 No comments yet
As one who has grown up in the heyday of the Information Revolution, I can attest to the notion that today’s young people have more access to information and differing viewpoints than at any other point in history. With that being said, it’s easy to see how the church can be viewed as stifling in an age where we are constantly bombarded by different ideas.
25 percent of 18-29 year-olds felt that “Christians demonize everything outside of the church,” with movies, music, and video games drawing heavy fire. However, it is worth asking if this is truly something churches are trending toward in response to this rise in information, or if it is merely the old vs. young generational conflict that’s been happening since moms yelled at their daughters to turn down their Bing Crosby records.
A young’ns perspective:
I think the issue really lies in one word: connection. As people who grow up in such a world, we have a true desire to connect to the world we live in, especially with our faith. Seeing the kinds of immoral or misguiding information young people have the potential to connect to, the older generation of the church has taken a risk-averse approach to the information culture, a culture young people consume in historically large amounts with a more liberal mindset.
I’ve never particularly felt like the church was keeping me from experiencing the world outside of church walls. As far as a church sheltering me, I can tell you all about a mission trip to inner-city Memphis, Tennessee I went on in junior high that was anything but sheltering. Funny enough, the only time I felt overprotected was in college. Given, it was a Baptist college in Arkansas, but I found its rules banning dancing, alcohol, and gambling a little patronizing for people who were supposed to be adults. Did it affect my life significantly? No, I’m a joke on a dance floor and at a horse track, but I understand the feelings of others my age.
Let’s also consider that 22 percent of young people believe the church ignores real world problems. Is it right that we enjoy video games where you shoot at terrorists? Or the occasional rap song or R-rated movie? Is being curious about the principles of Buddhism and the ability to access it all with the click of a mouse bad? I don’t know. However, if you combine the perceived demonization of our culture with the belief that the church is ignoring more pressing matters, my generation seems to feel that churches have a lot more they should worry about than what we watch or listen to.
The easy answer to this conflict is for young people to simply up and leave and find a church that doesn’t strike them as legalistic and smothering. The catch is you can’t simply relocate and settle on a powdered-sugar church that doesn’t challenge and convict you. It’s a precarious balancing act of finding a place to worship that doesn’t strike you as legalistic and suppressing, but that also challenges you to follow Christ in your lifestyle. A much harder prospect is turning on yourself and evaluating that maybe it’s not the church’s values, but your own, that need adjusting. Never discount the possibility that you might be wrong. We’re young; it tends to happen.
Is it challenging to be a Christian at this age and in this time? For sure.
Can you find a church that not only keeps you grounded in God, but also addresses modern issues with understanding and grace? For sure.
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