Postmoderns and Old Farts

My generation by-and-large seems hell-bent on frustrating an emerging generation of “millennials”. We do this by either ignoring, or alternatively uncritically catering to, the prevailing postmodern sensibilities of an emerging “millennial” generation.

Too few churches, it seems to me, have become the type of participatory, open communities that I see in the New Testament and that I see millennials crave – where there is cross-generational fellowship, respect and ministry one to another.

Healthy “church”, it also seems to me, must include the natural dynamic of a new generation emerging into influence, ministry and leadership within a multi-generational framework.

Jesus In Us and Through Us

True Church: Multi-generational Blessings

Absent a mult-generational framework, my generation will become stodgy old farts without energy or life. We need to give millennials leeway to shake things up, while also becoming mentors to them in what remains standing.

Likewise, my generation may see a few bubbles that legitimately need to be popped among the millennials.

We need each other. Only as we interact can we burst our old rigid wine skins and forge common vision by becoming authentically comprehensive expressions of Christ’s Body – the church.

A big obstacle to this, however, is the lethargy of my generation.

Too many of us – including our leaders – have settled into the easy familiarity of settled complacency.

We’ve paid a high price for what we’ve learned and legitimately achieved over the years, and now lack the energy to reproduce what’s good – while discerning what’s not – from our own journeys.

We’ve become old farts, set in our ways.

As a result, we’ve turned our churches into cocoons built around our generational sensibilities – just as surely as fellowships and movements which cater only to millennials likewise have become protective cocoons for their sensibilities.

Unfortunately, however, neither kind of cocoon will produce metamorphosis and new life. Rather, they simply shelter both generations from growth and change.

Me? I choose to embrace growth and change because God’s Kingdom, while built on a firm foundation that includes God’s propositional truths and the lessons learned by those saints who have gone before us, is nonetheless progressive! And I refuse to miss out on what God wants to do, and is doing, with this new generation.

Some generational millennials have seen the folly of an overly “emergent,” post-modern and subjective faith. They recognize that although they are different, and have much to say which is good and needed, they really are not superior to any prior generation and have much to learn from others.

Likewise, some in my generation understand the folly of an overly propositional, directed faith. They recognize that it is good to allow an upcoming generation to shake things up and prove what is really of God.

Among those who “get it” and are willing to embrace the blessings of cross-generational fellowship, don’t give up! Let’s push forward and take our rightful place together at the Lord’s table.

~ Jim


9 responses

  1. I think I am beginning to understand the terms although it seems like the same old issue of generations replacing generations with new words attached.
    millennial has to do with people born after 1999?
    propositional truths seem to be things the Bible clearly says?
    relational truths seems to be a way of saying, “Live as brothers in Christ?”

    I still get confused about post-modern, emergent, and organic. Are these special words religious writers have coined for “new” directions or movements within the church? The arguments seem so erudite and intense I dispair of ever comprehending the plain sense of them. Perhaps you can issue a dictionary.


    • Tom, you must be a fellow old fart!

      Millennial: the common name for current 20 and 30 somethings. Also known as Generation Y. Typically someone born between 1980 and 1999 and fairly postmodern in their views.

      Propositional Truths: Objective truth that does not depend on my views, perceptions or opinions. It is transcendent and true regardless of my views.

      Post-Modern: A worldview that believes everything is relative and subjective. It rejects the modern/enlightenment view that believed reason alone is sufficient to know what is objectively true, and either rejects the idea that there is objective truth or else rejects the idea that we can ever know objective truth with certainty. (BTW, I am not advocating modernism!)

      Emergent: Whatever you want it to mean. 😉

      Organic: Typically, an approach to church which believes it should be community and relationally focused rather than meeting focused, and when they do meet, believes the meetings should be open and participatory as everyone is able to minister one to another. Meetings should not be directed with passive pew sitters. Generally, sees leadership as flat and non-hierarchical, and rejects the idea of a single sole-proprietor pastor as a corruption of the NT focus on diverse elders.

      These are all generalizations, but should give you an idea what I’m talkin’ about!


      • Definitely an “old fart.” Apparently the “house church” movement is past now and “organic” is the new “in”…it makes me think of growing vegetables while letting the worms have their way. The community and relationally-focused part sounds like what the church has always been intended to be. The meeting aspect sounds like what the Mennonites have aimed for for centuries (even though it migrated into a system where visiting teachers were the biggest contiributors each meeting). IN THEORY the Presbyterians have a flat model with all the leaders being elders (except they slip in a “teaching elder” and usuallly give the deciding vote to him). Can’t find fault with anything of the description except the idea that this is something new.
        I keep hearing about the “mega” churches with a business structure, but we don’t seem to have anything that large here on Prince Edward Island, so that may be why the concerns don’t seem so relevant. Still, I do know of one potential pastor who was quite emphatic, in a discussion about whether he would encourage contributions by other members, that “there can only be ONE pastor.” No question about his leadership model!


  2. Millennials, the tech-savvy young adults who came of age after the turn of the century, don’t seem to be any different than any other generations’ twenty-somethings: ambitious, idealistic, and progressive. Although I would agree they need mentors in their lives and may even crave those relationships, it doesn’t seem that they know that is what they crave. It seems that regardless of the generation, the twenties is a time of heady optimism and a determination to prove oneself to be smarter than anyone that came before. I certainly credit them for seeing the shallowness of the approaches that were designed with them in mind, and am hopeful that as they reject those methods they will use their youthful creativity to come up with effective, meaningful and authentic ministry. I would agree that as the older generation, we need to look for opportunities to connect with the mils and hopefully find that they too will desire to make those connections with us.


  3. Cross generational, like families. Right? Old folks, middle age folks, young marrieds and singles. children. Right? Like families. Right?

    So in most institutional churches we segregate all into their own respective age groups: Golden Agers, replete with church buses to take them to their gigs of interest. Retreats for Marriage Renewals for middle agers, plus a miriad of conferences for middle agers. Then there is the Seeker friendly Service mainly aimed at young marrieds. And the Rock Concert Worship Services for College and HS Youth. Teen retreats and summer church camps. Toddler mommy day out outreaches. Not to mention bible studies aimed at every age level. Then there is the main service where only a few folk are even allowed to speak.

    Everything’s perfect. Right?

    Jim, you put your finger on an institutional sore spot. Good for you. We need to know and face these things in the church, institutional to organic. We do need mentoring, sheperding, encouraging, prophesying, envisioning, and the church is the right venue. The church preempted, lots of stuff…. gets in the way. We may not live long enough to get it all straightened out, but we should try.


  4. Well, this old fart would like to say something also. All those big words and definations that Jesus never considered, let alone used. Jesus’ invitation is to follow Him, John the Baptist said ‘go follow Him’, Paul said imitate me as I imitate Christ, Stephen pointed to the living Christ dwelling in men not in buildings……that cost Stephen his life. When will we get it – it is and never has been about church, but all about ‘Chrsit in me, the hope of glory’. God’s covenant with mankind promises eternal life, and eternal living intimate relationship with the Father and the Son John 17:3……..mans thinking is always about a place, a meeting, what we can do……God thinks in relationship, eternity and to follow Him as demonstrated by Jesus some 2000 years ago.


  5. I think I start to get it. The real conflict is between old (no other word for it) Christians who hold firmly to the reins and the young Christians who long for a role in the fellowship and will go elsewhere if that is denied. It seems to me I have spent most of my life restricted to the receiving end of teaching.
    “If it was good enough for Paul & Silas, it should be good enough for you.” (applied jokingly to the KJV, but reflecting the rigidity of the “truth” perceived by the older generation, irrespective of the Scripture itself).


  6. I think a large challenge lies in the great divide between the legalism often espoused by the old-tiered way of doing things and the spiritual liazzes fairism that is often espoused by the newer post modern generation. We need a mutigenerational bridge that can connect tangible righteousness with relational freedom.


  7. Pingback: God’s Pleasure « Crossroad Junction

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