I've spent some time with family this summer and as a result, I've been immersed in young adult culture and then older adult culture (as in 75+). At first I was thinking these two cultures are on a collision course but I've decided it's more like they are going in opposite directions, never to meet unless something really brings them together.
I found young adults to be more disconnected to the church than I even I had imagined. What we care about as the institutional church is so far off their radar of concern. But it's not that they don't have expectations of the church. In fact, they're deeply disappointed that we talk but we don't walk what they expect the church to be: a community that cares about people other than ourselves. That's kind of the bottom line: we care too much about ourselves and not others, especially those who are different from ourselves, the environment, and the global issues of our day.
My immersion with older was a little disconcerting, too. Change is about the last thing they want--in the church or politics. For instance, my cousin's daughter who is 14 came to a family gathering. No one quite expected her to make the 2 hours trip in the car but she came. Shouldn't we be delighted that she did? Shouldn't we be all over her in terms of making her feel welcome? Instead the girl hennas her hair and later all I heard was that she hennas her hair. Who cares? In my immersion with young adults in San Francisco, I never saw so many tattoos in my entire life in such a short time. I had to get over myself on that one! Yet these older adults can't figure out why younger people won't go to church! But the look on their faces would make any young adult think twice, not to mention my cousin's 14-year-old!
When I got home the other day from the most recent foray into family immersions, I began to wonder, what is the role of people my age? Baby boomers. I'm thinking specifically in terms of the church.
Do we ask the right questions of both groups?
How are we part of the problem? Or the solution?
Do we advocate for one group or the other?
Do we try to bring these totally alien groups together?
Do we align with one or the other?
I was talking to one of my young adult relatives and she said, "You have to just go with the young people...but then I suppose that's hard for the old people." Yes, my dear, that's the dilemma.
So, I'm wondering. How do you experience these two diverse age groups? As one of them or someone like me in the middle.
Frankly, I've never felt so middle aged as I have at the end of this summer after my immersions with the two age groups! And the church is definitely in the grips of middle age--trying to negotiate between these two very diverse age groups.