Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How does Generation Me Affect the Church?

We are in the midst of cultural shifts. A quick glance at headlines and book titles at Borders illustrates this. However, I wasn't fully aware of the generational shift happening parallel to (and in response to) the cultural shifts. That is until I picked up Jean Twenge's book, Generation Me.

Wow! What an eye-opener. As one who is at the older end of the Gen Me span, I found Twenge's book fascinating, witty, and straight forward.

For instance:
- 18-35 year olds have higher self-esteem than previous generations thus more they tend to be more focused on the self/individual and seeking personal happiness than previous generations

- Gen Me's were taught "you can do or be anything you want if you put your mind to it" as we were growing up. So we enter our places of work with high expectations for how quickly we will advance (i.e. expecting to be a corporate executive making six figures after 5 years with the organization.)

- Gen Me's struggle with anxiety and depression significantly more than generations before them (mostly as a result of realizing that no you can't be or do anything you want to...there are realistic limits).

(For a full discussion of Twenge's book, jump over to Scot McKnight's series at Jesus Creed, where I first heard about the book. He works through the book in 15 posts that do a great job of summarizing and reflecting on the book.)

While reading this book I couldn't help but wonder about the impact of such generational shifts on the church and Christianity, more specifically in my context in the United Methodist Church.

- How does this generational shift affect evangelism?

- How does such a shift affect structures and processes in the organization of the church (i.e. ordination)?

- How does such a generational shift affect the culture of the church and how the church operates going forward?

In the coming days I will reflect on each of these questions in a separate post. What are your observations?

Please join the discussion in the comments.

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