Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Sometimes I feel like I'm barely hanging on.

The world is changing and diversifying so rapidly. It's the Tower of Babel-effect in hyper speed.

One of the challenges today is that 25+ years ago we had a much more unified culture. It really wasn't that difficult to feel like you were "in touch" with what was happening in the culture (at least in our Western culture--we were painfully ignorant of much of the rest of the world and didn't know it). The media was a unifying factor in culture -- for example, it erased some of the distance/distinctions between urban and rural because the farmer in Iowa listened to the same radio broadcast as the school teacher in New York City. There were only a few radio (and TV) stations and they were all pretty much alike.

Today in the electronic/information age, media is NOT a unifying factor but a huge diversifying influence and reflector (think of the political difference between the news on ABC and FOX, for example). There are hundreds of radio stations and they are very different, each having an audience which is very different than the audience of another station (music style being one of the key differences). Think of the TV options with cable or dish. With only a few, rare exceptions (e.g. the Super Bowl) is there a culturally unifying influence through media. Our retirees are still watching "Little House on the Prairie" while their grandkids are watching MTV. Talk about different -- shockingly different!! Neither has much appreciation for or understanding of the culture of the other reflected in those media options.

When I was a 30-year old pastor, the culture of the seniors and the teenagers was different (we were starting to talk about a "generation gap"), but nearly like it is today. Many seniors today don't have a clue what the world of a teenager is like, and have long ago given up on trying. Of course, the teenager isn't spending a lot of time learning about or appreciating the culture of the AARP crowd either.

So, we face the great challenge of needing the wisdom that can come from age and experience but also the cultural awareness and fresh dreams that come from youth (without which we can easily become irrelevant -- not in our CORE message, but in its applications and methods). On the one end, it's easy for the older generations to think that the younger generations should "do it just like we always have." And, it's easy for the younger generations to "throw out the baby with the bath water."

The good news is that the all-knowing and all wise Holy Spirit is willing to be our guide. He works in and through Jesus' new community, the church. Hopefully the church will be the "lab" where cross-generational life sharing can happen in meaningful and productive ways. We need to soak it all in love and understanding.

I'm trying to hang on...

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