Volume 8 Number 6

So I've been directed to a Philosophy Now article that tells me that postmodernism has been replaced by pseudomodernism. I'm not sure what to make of this yet, nor what implications, if true, it may have on Christianity, preaching and church.

But it got me thinking about complaints that are starting to be made more and more of the pseudo-modern, Gen Y sort of crew. And I would like to soften these criticisms and try to offer some words in their defence.

The Gen Y crowd are apparently individualistic, self-absorbed, naively optmistic, incompetent with basic life skills and non-committal. They are the STABO generation (Subject To A Better Offer). They can be berated for letting church down by not commiting to ministries, not signing up to conferences soon enough.

There's plenty of truth to this no doubt. At the very least, these sins are to a certain extent common to all people. But what might be said to balance things out? Well I've just got two things to get the ball rolling:

  1. If they *are* more individualistic and uncommitted, this is at least in part because of the failure of the Baby Boomer and Gen X parents and church leaders who failed to teach and train them in these areas. This rebuke is also a call for us to be more dilligent in our leading of those under our care.
  2. We don't want to judge what commitment and competence looks like by yesterday's standards. Punctuality looks different in Africa than it does in Germany. Restraint looks different in Britain than it does in Australia. The Gen Y has grown up in a world of multiple commitments, vast amounts of information and networks of powerful relationship technology. They may be less reliable in certain relationships, but in others they are far more realiable than a Baby Boomer technophobe, or a Gen X internet pragmatist.
What does this mean to me as a church leader? I think I need to see future generations less as 'normal' people. Everyone is a manager now with a mobile centre of operations (PDA, iPod, mobile phone). Everyone is connected to a vast network of information and relationships.

I can't just expect reliability and commitment from people as if all they have to juggle is their A5 2007 diary with a TODO list in the margin. Now, everyone is a manager of a department: their life. I need to treat every under-30 in my church the way I would only treat the CEO of earlier generations.

If all someone has is a diary, then they are only disorganised in one place. Now, people are disorganised across several galaxies of technology. As a leader, if I want to promote reliability and commitment, I need to be committed to serving people with providing a user-friendly interface that will help them.