February 14, 2008

Tossing Gen X

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 11:19 am by Rev. Thomas Perchlik

I am not interested in appealing to Generation X, or any other generation for that matter.  I am aware of the “Gen X” lable, but I don’t trust it.  Instead we have several Young Adults in our congregation and I work to pay attention to them as individuals and keep them involved as long as possible. I pay attention to the most recent blips in popular culture and make references to them, but only because I find it interesting.  In sermons I rarely introduce a name or event from more than ten years ago without briefly explaining who that person or event was not because 20 year old people will not remember, but because 40, 60 and 90 year old people might not remember.  I tell stories as illustrations in my sermons about people of all ages and pay attention to how inclusive I am, sometimes changing gender or age or ethnicity of the characters if it adds something to the illustration.   When I tell “Children’s stories” to the little ones who come up front I remember that I am speaking to every child within every person in the congregation.  I don’t try to appeal to just young parents, or some generalized “Gen X” group or create a “UU Emergent” service.  I and my leadership include young adults as best we can, and encourage them to create their own support groups, knowing that some will move away in a matter of months or years and might never return to any UU congregation, while others might end up living in Muncie town for the rest of forever.   The current leaders of the church were attracted to the creativity of Rev. Drew Kennedy in the 60s and 70s, but they were not targeted as a ministry category and it was not just his ‘post-hippy style’ that kept them around all these years.  Instead, Drew did good ministry, cared for the people in a time of many congregational deaths, and spoke lasting truths.  I think ministry is best if it is not targeted to a labeled group but given to people in all their diversity. 

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3 Comments »

  1. davidium said,

    Rev. Perchlik,

    But are we really giving ministry to people in all their diversity? I love the sentiment, but our congregations are often quite self-selecting… As a faith we are majority white, well educated, and on the upper end of the economic spectrum.

    I absolutely agree with your sentiment, if you are speaking of our ministry inside of our congregations… but I think that as we reach to spread our Good News beyond those who are naturally inclined and comfortable in our congregations that we do need to be more targeted in how that message is presented… and I believe that such “mission” work is indeed ministry vital to our faith and to the world.

    Thank you for your article, you inspired thought.. and a Blog posting of my own this morning.

    Yours in Faith,

    David

  2. Otto said,

    Gneration X is a term used mostly for those born from about1960 to 1975 (ie those who are currently between the ages of about 30 to about 45). The term carries with it a sense of apathy, sarcasm, and general distrust about the future, society, etc.

    Applying this term “Gen X” to people who don’t actually fall within that category (Young Adult are generally considered to be between the ages of 18-35, but you did mention people in their 20s) does imply in a way that you are places these assumptions upon them, even though you claim to not trust this label.

    Just a thought.

  3. Sarah Klein said,

    (You blog?! 🙂

    I hate being labelled a “Gen X’er” (even though I’m sure I have enough sarcasm and distrust to qualify… heh). Maybe it’s too many years as the child of knee-jerk anticonformists, or maybe it’s the general annoyance I feel around many of my peers. I don’t know. However, I was listening to one of the Drive Time blurbs about attracting and keeping “young people” and I thought…. wow. How McChurch-ish. 😉

    Thank you for not turning our church into something that’s superficially appealing (“And here’s your toy!”) but spiritually empty.


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