By Grant Bayldon & Claire Rogers
The concept of a generation gap is not new. Yet, elders and commentators in our public square seem to have a particularly unhealthy obsession with the apparent gulf between emergent generations, like Millennials and their predecessors.
Let’s not be naïve: The gap is real. The generation raised in the shadow of the so-called War on Terror, who graduated into the global financial crisis and are now trying to settle down amidst record housing prices certainly don’t carry the same institutional trust of their forebears.
As a result, humanity’s first digital natives, who came of age with technology that flattened social hierarchies, opened access to information and created the concept of a ‘personal brand’, have taken to ‘disruption’ as their watchword.
Perhaps, rather than bemoaning these changes and belittling lived experiences with throwaway comments, we need to take up the mantle of understanding new perspectives and in turn growing, improving, even changing, as a result.
This generation gap presents a unique challenge for Christianity. Two thousand years into the gift of ‘the Church’ we find ourselves in the era of disruption, worshipping a Saviour who is ‘the same yesterday, today and forever’.
Not only that, but in recent years a string of moral failings within the Church have been laid bare. We have our work cut out not only reaching Millennials and Gen Z, but rebuilding our standing with generations famously short on institutional trust.
Yet there is great hope.
Globally, we see churches thriving, growing rapidly in areas where the gospel has been held back for years. In our own churches, we see young people coming to know a God by whom they are fully known and fully loved, and in so doing, finding not only salvation but a salve for the weariness and detachment that has come to be part of modern life.
That is why World Vision commissioned this research.
For decades, World Vision has been on mission alongside the Church. Core to our organisation is the firm belief that the Church is not only the greatest God-ordained force for holistic transformation, but also at its best in uniting the full diversity of God’s people. We have a responsibility to heal divides, whether they be racial, cultural, class or, indeed, generational.
We didn’t want our mission to be distracted by stereotypes or informed only by assumptions. Instead, we wanted to hear the voice of young adults, to learn how we might unleash them so their communities might thrive and so they may see the love of God on earth, as it is in heaven.