By: Stephen McAlpine
Speaking as a cynical, grumpy ex-Gothic X-Generation boy who all the other generations despise, let me say this: If you’re a Christian, it’s not OK to say “OK Boomer”
That’s a dismissive and arrogant thing to say.
And Boomers? It’s not ok to razz out on Millennials, as snowflakes or whatever. For what it’s worth I generally think that Millennials, especially in the church, are far more resilient than Boomers. After all they’re just putting up with and living in the hostile post-Christian world that the Boomers Christians seem so shocked by. The Boomers risk being snowflakes themselves if they’re not careful.
Okay, Millennials you think your time has come and you know the answers to everything? Well just be humble enough to admit that you stand on the shoulders of giants. The Boomers built the West back up after the war.
And Boomers? Stop scoffing at the Millennials. Many of the intractable problems that we face today were brought about by your optimism that we could do anything, and then fix the mess up later.
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A bit of humility on both sides would be great. And a bit of gospel humility among God’s people.
As an X-Gen I can look at both your generations, (one spawned the other, while our parents were the Silent Generation born during the war) and say this:
‘If you’re a Christian don’t follow the lead of the culture. Just this once, please?’
I mean we’ve slavishly followed the culture in the past fifty or sixty years over just about anything, whether that’s rampant individualism, the cult of autonomy, or the Sexular Culture and its various slicings and dicings.
But just for once, Christian Boomer and Christian Millennial, hold your nerve and stare that culture down. Just this time decide that you’re going to be salt and light in this increasingly fractious culture that takes glee in tribalism, and reject its downward spiral.
And it’s not as if you’re even being original in doing the generational war. The New Testament Scriptures abound with household codes in which generations are called not only to not razz on each other, but to look to each other with love and a servant attitude.
And that’s before we even get into the language of family: brothers and sisters, and stuff like that. Older men treating younger as sons, younger women looking to older women in the church as mothers.
Listen to what Paul says to Timothy:
‘Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.’
I’m pretty sure Paul would be sickened if one of God’s people starting speaking to another generation, simply because they were from another generation, like the world does. Or even for some perceived way of acting towards them.
To define someone merely generationally is, according to the gospel, a category error. We are those upon whom the ends of the ages have come, so let’s start acting like the new age people we are.
Or treating them like the world does, cos there’s that “absolute purity” term in there. The gospel isn’t into “purity culture” (hello Josh Harris), nor is it into “impurity culture” (hello post evangelicals), it’s into “absolute purity” culture. Go have a think about it.
At our church we have one service. There are reasons to have multiple services in churches, not doubt. But for us, we stuck with one. Old people, young people, families, singles, divorced, babies, teenagers. It’s often unwieldy, but we love it.
And here’s what I totally loved. I loved hearing the young blokes group sit around one day and a couple of their leaders tell the group:
“Hey guys, go get yourself an old bloke. Get them to mentor you. Don’t just confirm each other’s stories.”
Get yourselves an old bloke. I like that.
And the old blokes? Well I started up a group for the retiree and semi-retiree blokes and I called it The Jesus Geezers. And do you know what I like about the Jesus Geezers, who are mostly all Boomers? They’re more like Jesus than they are like Geezers. They pray for the young blokes and have already sorted out ways to support them, and are doing it.
Without Jesus, geezers become grumblers. But with Jesus, grumbling can be killed stone dead.
Let’s not bang on about how the church can lead the way in being counter cultural, whether that’s on sexual matters or other consumer/environmental matters, if we can’t even do the basic thing that Jesus calls us to do: to love one another and demonstrate that we belong to him in doing so.
Article supplied with thanks to Stephen McAlpine
About the Author: Stephen is the lead pastor of Providence Church Midland, and in his writing dabbles in a number of fields, notably theology and culture. Stephen and his family live in Perth’s eastern suburbs.