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Summer 2008 Rapport: From the Leadership Files

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Listening to a generation

 

by Chuck Haavik (D.Min. 2006), Chi Alpha pastor, Duluth, Minn.

Secular colleges and universities represent one of the great American mission fields. In fact, data indicate a significant number of AG high school graduates will “step away” from faith while attending a secular college or university1.

The culture gap between evangelical and Pentecostal churches and young adults has become difficult to cross. In the book UnChristian by David Kinnaman, young adults not in the church see Christians as judgmental, hypocritical, antihomosexual, boring, out of touch with reality, too focused on getting converts and too political, among other things2. Reaching students requires a missional and cross-cultural mind-set with a desire to get to know their culture and a willingness to look honestly at our own.

Get on campus, have lunch in the cafeteria, hang out in the coffee shop, check out the posters that are plastered all over the walls and understand what students are interested in. Don’t judge, just learn! This is the most knowledgeable generation in history, and trite generalizations from the pulpit about complex issues are perceived as arrogant and ill-informed.

Find a friend who can teach you about student life from the inside. The other day I sat with my 21-year-old-friend Mike in a coffee shop near campus and learned more in two hours of listening than in two years of reading.

This is a global generation. They have been connected to every inch of the planet by the internet since they could talk. This generation is hardwired to change the world. They have grown up with images of poverty, starvation and injustice, and they want to do something about it. Christianity that isn’t concerned with issues of justice and relief is perceived as hypocritical and irrelevant.

Students are hungry for the supernatural. I am seeing many of our best young leaders go to other church movements, not only because they like the community and culture, but because they are experiencing the Holy Spirit there. They dislike hype and lecturing about spiritual things but desire relaxed, spiritually potent environments where they can encounter God.

This generation has a rendezvous with God. They are hungry for the real thing, mistrust the establishment, dislike religion, love the poor and want to change the world. Maybe we should see where they’re heading—it sounds interesting.

1. George O.Wood, Passion for the Future, Assemblies of God Minister’s Letter, Perspective, April, 2006. See: http://colleges.ag.org/faculty_resources/articles/PDF/Passion%20for%20the%20Future.pdf

2. Kinnaman, David. UnChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2007, 24.

Updated: Monday, February 1, 2010 11:13 AM

 
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