Wednesday, August 4

Article Review: Generational Ministry

Excellent article in Presence (International Journal of Spiritual Direction) on "Generational Ministry: Spiritual Guidance for the Five Adult Generations Alive Today."

Quick synopsis of spiritual component:
The G.I. Generation - value hierarchy and order & so does God. Traditional, institutional, extroverted (i.e. people need to go out to church), obedient & responsible. Value direction in their spirituality (being directed).

The Silent Generation - value keeping up the institutions of the G.I. Generation. Adaptive generation, making the previous institutions created continue to work. Empathetic, highly compassionate, justice seeking (all civil rights figures are from here). Plays well with others. Divine is a loving parent. Movers behind ecumenical movement. Introverted spirituality--it's personal. Both need directive and non-directive approaches.

The Baby Boomers - biggest break from traditional faiths of their childhoods. Eastern concepts are popular. Spiritually eclectic. Divine is imminent and omnipresent. Divine focused on social sins not personal sins. Open and vocal about their spirituality, but consider their own practice of it to be a private affair.  Small groups or alone work best.  Aversion to authority.  Need a non-directive approach.  Spirituality is measured on a continuum from apathy to commitment.

Generation X - Fiercely non-institutional and often non-religious.  X-ers will be on the street handing out sandwiches rather than rallying to raise consciousness.  Religiosity tempered with skepticism/agnosticism.  Firecely relativistic.  Except the Evangelical subculture.  Here people who are faced with a postmodern, deconstructed universe, many turn to traditional paradigms.  But even here, they are not in "lockstep" with their elders and will deconstruct and reconstruct the issues to square their own generational biases and their own faith demands.  Xers are super private in their spiritual practices.  Extremely reactive to authority.  Remember, they are "making meaning from scratch."  Non-directive style is good.

The Millennial Generation - Least religious generation alive.  72% are "spiritual but not religious."  Most do not believe their own faith is the only faith.  Tend to see a transcendent, largely irrelevant divinity.  Like an "absentee landlord who wants us to be happy and do good things."  Spirituality is not of a prime importance.  They have few spiritual practices and few attend worship.  Very introverted spiritually.  They feel a connection to others and the cosmos, but probably won't name that as God.  Experience "technological spirituality."  Global citizens first.  Non-directive.  Spirituality is measured on the continuum of unhappy to happy.

...and next?
Will be an "adaptive generation" as the Silent Generation was.  Likely they will be tweaking what the Millenials are building.

My own thoughts on what they will be tweaking...the "technological spirituality" will begin to take a back seat to interpersonal contact. Touch and contact is very important. But privacy will be valued as they confront corporate and governmental intrusion into every aspect of their life. They are the most tracked generation. So as we develop ways to deal with "technological spirituality," we should be cognizant of overusing this to reach the post-millenial generation. They may lead to the unplugged generation.

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