Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Unity 2.0 - Age
Begin Unity 2.0 here
I am 36 years old. I am young enough to be in the senior portion of the emerging church demographic (if there is such a thing), and old enough to to realize that my body is not agile, my hair is slowly graying, and that I can point to things in history books that happened in my lifetime. Age is a curious thing. I don't feel much different than when I could steal 2nd base, but I know that I could never steal 2nd base.
Age is not merely about the number of years a person has lived either. Age is about what the culture was like when the cement turned hard. When you are a kid, the cement is wet, soft, and pliable. It is this way without much effort. Now, please understand that it is not a blank slate, but rather it is we cement. Slowly, as time goes by, the cement hardens. At least it hardens if there is not intentionality about keeping it soft.
When the cultures of the ages differ, our first goal is to fix the problem. There are many ways to fix this problems that do not work. Here are a few:
1. By Force - One generation or the other will use force the make the other generation submit to its culture. This can be seen in churches all thoughtout the country. Much of the worship wars are about generational and cultural force applied from the generation in power (older or younger) upon the generation with less power. This attempted solution breeds resentment, animosity, and peopole typically leave the church and hook up somewhere else or are unjured in the process. Prefernce is usually exalted to the level of "The Biblical Way" in all of the pathetic posturing garbed in theological absolutism. This is so not Jesus.
2. Accommodation - At first glance, this appears to be a better move than force. So, we split up into "developmentally appropriate" segments with age groups for everyone, catering to their every whim and need. We all get a religious IEP (Individualized Education Plan), a canon of favorite worship songs, and all of our limitless prefernces are produced for our religious consumoption. "There, now everybody's happy." Yeah right, just like the family of five that has five TVs on in five different rooms.
These bad attemtped solutions to the problem of our differences generated by age and culture of cementation only casue division. Notice I said it was the attmepted solution that caused the division, not the differences.
The core problem here is that we label differences a problem. That is really the problem. Calling a non-problem a problem is most certainly a problem. Certainly differences are uncomfortable. Sometimes they feel risky to acknowledge as relevant or meaningful. Oh yes, I know that differences require understanding and time to process. Differences are tough to handle.
HOWEVER, we are taking the wimps way out to label differences as problems. If differences are normal, then we have to get along and be loving, kind, patient, humble, sacrificial, gentle, generous, hopeful and whole lot of other tough stuff. Since that is all too ahrd for us, we label differences as problems and get to work eliminating the problem through force or accommodation.
How much energy do you suppose has been wasted in churches trying to fix the non-problem of generational differences through force and accommodation? I bet the number of chruch splits an dwounded souls on the force side and the number of billions of dollars and shallow consumer Christianity on the accommodation side would just make your head spin - and be utterly humilating.
Can't we just accept the fact that everyone is weird, generations are different, cultures shift, and that getting everything I want is the loneliest place on Earth?