Gen Xer’s and Millennials on Church & Social Justice Post 1

I’m interested in a stronger church for the sake of God’s Kingdom which I believe creates a better world. Gods kingdom marked as a world of love, peace, goodness, beauty and justice. In many of our evangelical churches, there has been a good bit of talk on love, peace and goodness but not as much on beauty and justice – that is until the last 10 or so years.

There’s a lot of debate surrounding just how much discussion/action has been around the themes of beauty and justice (or social justice). Some will say it’s always been there (ask Ron Sider), or at least in the forms of mission organizations (like World Vision), others will tell you they still never hear anything about social justice from their churches (like some whom I follow on Twitter).

My personal sense is I’ve seen it shift over the last 10 years. That context includes, my particular ministries, those  whom I am friends with, and what I’m reading/watching/listening to. But for conversation’s sake, it seems the Christian publishing industry started becoming more interested in social justice in the last 10 years too.  Maybe the last decade has brought more of those conversations – a few in particular.

One of which I have been thinking about the rise of NGO’s and the decline of traditional missions organizations. I know that’s a loaded sentence so let me give an example – I’m thinking about Charity: Water versus Samaritan’s Purse. I don’t know that many in my age range whom are interested in filling a shoe box from stuff from the dollar store but I know many who have given generously to organizations like Charity: Water or Blood.Water Mission or Living Water International.

Some will tell you that it’s because Gen X’ers and Millennials are not interested in sharing their faith or as one person shared with me, “I’m concerned your generation has lost its heart to evangelize the lost.” It stung when he said that and it must have stung him when I replied, “That’s tough to hear. But is it more because you never hear anyone my age say that sentence? Because “evangelize” sounds like a lot like ‘proselytize’ and I never call anyone ‘lost’ – it’s an unhelpful and often condescending label.”

I assured him I and so many other young(er) believers have a heart to share the Christian faith but it really was about sharing – not just sharing my creed, but also about sharing solutions to needs. My generation cannot fathom the idea that almost 1 billion people don’t have access to clean drinking water. We cannot understand how human-trafficking has become the issue it has become. And we don’t understand why some seem more concerned with wearing a hat in church than helping the marginalized. I had no intention of offending him nor do I feel compelled to defend my generation, frankly we could all use all the help we could get but I do think these issues are so important and that we need to come together and serve together.  It ended up being a good conversation but I’m sure we both left feeling the generational disconnect.

Apologies if that sounds like I’m sitting on a high horse because let me assure you, I am painfully aware of the “holes in my game” when it comes to serving others. As I have shared with my wife, with fellow pastors, good friends, and those I’ve bumped into along the way on social media and the journey of life, I find myself thinking that, “It’s freakishly difficult to do good.”

I know some will say, “That’s how the devil works” and some will say, “That’s why these problems still exist” and of course, another will say, “It’s actually really easy.” (And I’ll smile and as I feel my point has been well illustrated.)

Today I’m heading out with one my closet friends to The Justice Conference in Philadelphia. I know what some are thinking, “Come on, do we really need a conference on “justice?” Take a look around – yes we do.  Looking forward to posting more soon – thanks for reading.

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