Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Gospel for iGens

a Biblical thought...
When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, "If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed." Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. (Mark 5:27-29)

a Book thought...
Challenge yourself to be a dispenser of verbal medicine - an encourager who speaks healing into another person's life. (p140)
a Dave Scot McKnight
iGens (18-30) are not selfish or spoiled. Instead, they are intoxicated with the impact of 40 years of education that has focused singularly on self-esteem as the entitlement of each and every person for nothing more than being alive. As Twenge puts it, "GenMe is not self-absorbed; we're self-important."
Please don't get me wrong. iGens may have the healthiest, most robust egos in the history of the West, and some of this self-perception is profoundly good. Nevertheless, this robust self-perception is more than a formidable issue when it comes to the gospel and to church life today.
Jeffrey Arnett is perhaps America's most respected scholar of "emerging adulthood." He identifies five major characteristics:
1. They are exploring their own identities in love and work
2. They are in an age of instability
3. They are in a self-focused period of life
4. They feel in between adolescence and adulthood, neither one nor the other
5. They are driven by endless possibilities and are actively exploring them—jobs, travel, love, sex, identity, and location. This generation collects experiences more than money. While some may head off to Africa to change the world, at least as many (and probably more) head off to experience the world.

Anyone who vividly sketches a community marked by justice, love, peace, and holiness has a message iGens want to hear. The self hidden behind the castle wall is now interested. And I have found that the self-in-a-castle feels shame about systemic sin, and their sensitivity to things like AIDS, poverty, and racism leads inevitably to recognizing the sin in each person. At some point in this movement to the castle door, the iGen will realize that systemic sin is linked to personal sin. Suddenly he or she feels accountable to God.
Along with Jesus' kingdom vision, some iGens are awakened to faith by the discipleship demands of Jesus. I usually focus on the Sermon on the Mount, and not just because I'm an Anabaptist. This message of Jesus was the church's favorite and it remains a powerful sketch of a moral life that both creates a world of possibilities and—at the very core—unmasks pretence and sinfulness. Through the Sermon on the Mount, I find the self-in-a-castle lured to the castle door. In fact, rather than turning off iGens, the demand of Jesus for a life that matters and a morality that exceeds what they have experienced, is radically attractive. It challenges them to their core.
One danger to avoid when gospeling iGens is the common tendency to choose between Jesus and Paul. Given the option, iGens will choose Jesus every time.

Just a thought.

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