This month I started reading a book titled Youth Ministry in a Post-Christian World. I’m still reading through it and processing some of the data and conclusions the author shares (I’m sure something will appear in this space on a later date regarding the book).
So, as I’m thinking through this idea of living in a post-Christian world, I see this research from Barna. I thought it was interesting, especially for leaders in the church. One paragraph especially caught my attention:
The rising resistance to faith institutions is evidenced in the newer language used to discuss spirituality today. When it comes to matters of the soul, disclaimers are emerging as the new faith identifiers. Today, there are those who self-describe as “spiritual, but not religious”—individuals who like to associate with what they perceive as the positive elements of spirituality but not the negative associations of organized religion. Or consider the rise of the “Nones”—the much-discussed adults who are religiously unaffiliated and who don’t want to use any conventional label for their religious faith. And in many places, the prefix “post-” is being attached to matters of faith. Post-Christian. Post-denominational. Post-evangelical. Post-religious.
You can read the Barna article below, but it added to the churning in my brain about what it means to lead youth ministry (or any kind of ministry) in our post-Christian culture.
Each year Beloit College provides the Mindset List to reflect the worldview of the incoming college freshmen class. Last year I posted the list for the class of 2015; below is the list for this year’s class.
It is interesting to see how the TV, movies, technology, sports, government – even candy (see #30) – shape what we see in the world around us.
Any particular items jump out at you? #5 about YouTube is so true while #7 is both funny and sad at the same time. I was surprised that some of our students were unfamiliar with #34 when I brought him up. Your thoughts?
The Mindset List for the Class of 2016
For this generation of entering college students, born in 1994, Kurt Cobain, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Richard Nixon and John Wayne Gacy have always been dead.
They should keep their eyes open for Justin Bieber or Dakota Fanning at freshman orientation.
They have always lived in cyberspace, addicted to a new generation of “electronic narcotics.”
The Biblical sources of terms such as “Forbidden Fruit,” “The writing on the wall,” “Good Samaritan,” and “The Promised Land” are unknown to most of them.
Michael Jackson’s family, not the Kennedys, constitutes “American Royalty.”
If they miss The Daily Show, they can always get their news on YouTube.
Their lives have been measured in the fundamental particles of life: bits, bytes, and bauds.
Robert De Niro is thought of as Greg Focker’s long-suffering father-in-law, not as Vito Corleone or Jimmy Conway.
Bill Clinton is a senior statesman of whose presidency they have little knowledge.
They have never seen an airplane “ticket.”
On TV and in films, the ditzy dumb blonde female generally has been replaced by a couple of Dumb and Dumber males.
The paradox “too big to fail” has been, for their generation, what “we had to destroy the village in order to save it” was for their grandparents’.
For most of their lives, maintaining relations between the U.S. and the rest of the world has been a woman’s job in the State Department.
They can’t picture people actually carrying luggage through airports rather than rolling it.
There has always been football in Jacksonville but never in Los Angeles.
Having grown up with MP3s and iPods, they never listen to music on the car radio and really have no use for radio at all.
Since they’ve been born, the United States has measured progress by a 2 percent jump in unemployment and a 16 cent rise in the price of a first class postage stamp.
Benjamin Braddock, having given up both a career in plastics and a relationship with Mrs. Robinson, could be their grandfather.
Their folks have never gazed with pride on a new set of bound encyclopedias on the bookshelf.
The Green Bay Packers have always celebrated with the Lambeau Leap.
Exposed bra straps have always been a fashion statement, not a wardrobe malfunction to be corrected quietly by well-meaning friends.
A significant percentage of them will enter college already displaying some hearing loss.
The Real World has always stopped being polite and started getting real on MTV.
Women have always piloted war planes and space shuttles.
White House security has never felt it necessary to wear rubber gloves when gay groups have visited.
They have lived in an era of instant stardom and self-proclaimed celebrities, famous for being famous.
Having made the acquaintance of Furby at an early age, they have expected their toy friends to do ever more unpredictable things.
Outdated icons with images of floppy discs for “save,” a telephone for “phone,” and a snail mail envelope for “mail” have oddly decorated their tablets and smart phone screens.
Star Wars has always been just a film, not a defense strategy.
They have had to incessantly remind their parents not to refer to their CDs and DVDs as “tapes.”
There have always been blue M&Ms, but no tan ones.’
Along with online viewbooks, parents have always been able to check the crime stats for the colleges their kids have selected.
Newt Gingrich has always been a key figure in politics, trying to change the way America thinks about everything.
They have come to political consciousness during a time of increasing doubts about America’s future.
Billy Graham is as familiar to them as Otto Graham was to their parents.
Probably the most tribal generation in history, they despise being separated from contact with their similar-aged friends.
Stephen Breyer has always been an Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Martin Lawrence has always been banned from hosting Saturday Night Live.
Slavery has always been unconstitutional in Mississippi, and Southern Baptists have always been apologizing for supporting it in the first place.
The Metropolitan Opera House in New York has always translated operas on seatback screens.
A bit of the late Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek, has always existed in space.
Good music programmers are rock stars to the women of this generation, just as guitar players were for their mothers.
Gene therapy has always been an available treatment.
They were too young to enjoy the 1994 World Series, but then no one else got to enjoy it either.
The folks have always been able to grab an Aleve when the kids started giving them a migraine.
While the iconic TV series for their older siblings was the sci-fi show Lost, for them it’sBreaking Bad, a gritty crime story motivated by desperate economic circumstances.
Simba has always had trouble waiting to be King.
Before they purchase an assigned textbook, they will investigate whether it is available for rent or purchase as an e-book.
They grew up, somehow, without the benefits of Romper Room.
There has always been a World Trade Organization.
L.L. Bean hunting shoes have always been known as just plain Bean Boots.
They have always been able to see Starz on Direct TV.
Ice skating competitions have always been jumping matches.
There has always been a Santa Clause.
NBC has never shown A Wonderful Life more than twice during the holidays.
Mr. Burns has replaced J.R.Ewing as the most shot-at man on American television.
They have always enjoyed school and summer camp memories with a digital yearbook.
Herr Schindler has always had a List; Mr. Spielberg has always had an Oscar.
Selena’s fans have always been in mourning.
They know many established film stars by their voices on computer-animated blockbusters.
History has always had its own channel.
Thousands have always been gathering for “million-man” demonstrations in Washington, D.C.
Television and film dramas have always risked being pulled because the story line was too close to the headlines from which they were ”ripped.”
TheTwilight Zone involves vampires, not Rod Serling.
Robert Osborne has always been introducing Hollywood history on TCM.
Little Caesar has always been proclaiming “Pizza Pizza.”
They have no recollection of when Arianna Huffington was a conservative.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has always been officially recognized with clinical guidelines.
They watch television everywhere but on a television.
Pulp Fiction’s meal of a “Royale with Cheese” and an “Amos and Andy milkshake” has little or no resonance with them.
Point-and-shoot cameras are soooooo last millennium.
Despite being preferred urban gathering places, two-thirds of the independent bookstores in the United States have closed for good during their lifetimes.
Astronauts have always spent well over a year in a single space flight.
Lou Gehrig’s record for most consecutive baseball games played has never stood in their lifetimes.
Genomes of living things have always been sequenced.
The Sistine Chapel ceiling has always been brighter and cleaner.
As many of our friends, family and church family know, Joe is on a mission trip to Ireland with a group from Cincinnati Christian University. They left Friday, but were delayed getting out of the Cincinnati airport due to the bad weather. Once they left, they made connecting at JFK and flew to Dublin. The only news we have received so far is a Facebook post that says “I am in Ireland safe and sound. Thank you for all the prayer!” (The picture is one I snagged off his FB and I have no idea where they are or what they are doing.)
It’s a strange feeling knowing your son is in a different country, especially when you are used to sending a text to touch base. I know he was looking forward to the trip and experiencing a new culture. The group is doing a VBS and Joe is speaking one night to a group of teens. Should be a great experience and can’t wait to hear all about it.
I’ve had the opportunity to hear Leonard Sweet speak on one or two occasions and have read some of his other writings. I like his insights and how he sees how the church can impact culture. I also find myself having to read a paragraph a couple of times to really grasp what it is he is trying to say. While he is a student of culture, he also brings his love for history and poetry into his writing. He definitely challenges your thinking.
In Viral, he draws a distinction between two groups of people. One groups he called “Googlers.” Sweet sees them as natives to the culture of social media. The other group he calls “Gutenbergers,” meaning those who grew up in the culture of the printed word. I found it slightly ironic that his message about a more digital form of media arrived to me in printed (paperback) form. I think it shows the continued tension that exists as part of our culture has embraced the digital while others cling to printed text.
Sweet uses this acronym in his book: TGIF. It doesn’t refer to the well-known phrase many use as they anticipate the weekend. Instead, he gives it new meaning to highlight the growth of social networking: Twitter, Google, iPhone, Facebook. In his book, he explains the impact of each of these on our culture.
One of the big distinctions Sweet points to about the Googler versus Gutenberger culture is the idea of connection. Those who have embraced social media in its many forms are about connecting with others. While some in the Gutenberger camp see the connections as superficial, for the Googler, they are relational connections.
Sweet encourages the church to take advantage of the desire for connection. Throughout Viral Sweet looks at ways the church and individual Christ followers can make use of social media to advance the message of Jesus.
Viral would be a good read for both the Googler and Gutenberger. Social media has and will continue to impact our culture. Our response will be how we chose to make use of it.
Each year Beloit College puts out a “Mindset List” which gives a picture of the incoming freshmen class. It is so interesting to me to see what cultural mindset the students have. Some of the things that were big changes when they happened are simply commonplace to the class of 2015. You can see the original list at http://www.beloit.edu/mindset/2015/
Check out the video and then the list below that.
The Mindset List for the Class of 2015
Andre the Giant, River Phoenix, Frank Zappa, Arthur Ashe and the Commodore 64 have always been dead.
Their classmates could include Taylor Momsen, Angus Jones, Howard Stern’s daughter Ashley, and the Dilley Sextuplets.
1. There has always been an Internet ramp onto the information highway.
2. Ferris Bueller and Sloane Peterson could be their parents.
3. States and Velcro parents have always been requiring that they wear their bike helmets.
4. The only significant labor disputes in their lifetimes have been in major league sports.
5. There have nearly always been at least two women on the Supreme Court, and women have always commanded U.S. Navy ships.
6. They “swipe” cards, not merchandise.
7. As they’ve grown up on websites and cell phones, adult experts have constantly fretted about their alleged deficits of empathy and concentration.
8. Their school’s “blackboards” have always been getting smarter.
9. “Don’t touch that dial!”….what dial?
10. American tax forms have always been available in Spanish.
11. More Americans have always traveled to Latin America than to Europe.
12. Amazon has never been just a river in South America.
13. Refer to LBJ, and they might assume you’re talking about LeBron James.
14. All their lives, Whitney Houston has always been declaring “I Will Always Love You.”
15. O.J. Simpson has always been looking for the killers of Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman.
16. Women have never been too old to have children.
17. Japan has always been importing rice.
18. Jim Carrey has always been bigger than a pet detective.
19. We have never asked, and they have never had to tell.
20. Life has always been like a box of chocolates.
21. They’ve always gone to school with Mohammed and Jesus.
22. John Wayne Bobbitt has always slept with one eye open.
23. The Communist Party has never been the official political party in Russia.
24. “Yadda, yadda, yadda” has always come in handy to make long stories short.
25. Video games have always had ratings.
26. Chicken soup has always been soul food.
27. The Rocky Horror Picture Show has always been available on TV.
28. Jimmy Carter has always been a smiling elderly man who shows up on TV to promote fair elections and disaster relief.
29. Arnold Palmer has always been a drink.
30. Dial-up is soooooooooo last century!
31. Women have always been kissing women on television.
32. Their older siblings have told them about the days when Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera were Mouseketeers.
33. Faux Christmas trees have always outsold real ones.
34. They’ve always been able to dismiss boring old ideas with “been there, done that, gotten the T-shirt.”
35. The bloody conflict between the government and a religious cult has always made Waco sound a little whacko.
36. Unlike their older siblings, they spent bedtime on their backs until they learned to roll over.
37. Music has always been available via free downloads.
38. Grown-ups have always been arguing about health care policy.
39. Moderate amounts of red wine and baby aspirin have always been thought good for the heart.
40. Sears has never sold anything out of a Big Book that could also serve as a doorstop.
41. The United States has always been shedding fur.
42. Electric cars have always been humming in relative silence on the road.
43. No longer known for just gambling and quickie divorces, Nevada has always been one of the fastest growing states in the Union.
44. They’re the first generation to grow up hearing about the dangerous overuse of antibiotics.
45. They pressured their parents to take them to Taco Bell or Burger King to get free pogs.
46. Russian courts have always had juries.
47. No state has ever failed to observe Martin Luther King Day.
48. While they’ve been playing outside, their parents have always worried about nasty new bugs borne by birds and mosquitoes.
49. Public schools have always made space available for advertising.
50. Some of them have been inspired to actually cook by watching the Food Channel.
51. Fidel Castro’s daughter and granddaughter have always lived in the United States.
52. Their parents have always been able to create a will and other legal documents online.
53. Charter schools have always been an alternative.
54. They’ve grown up with George Stephanopoulos as the Dick Clark of political analysts.
55. New Kids have always been known as NKOTB.
56. They’ve always wanted to be like Shaq or Kobe: Michael Who?
57. They’ve often broken up with their significant others via texting, Facebook, or MySpace.
58. Their parents sort of remember Woolworths as this store that used to be downtown.
59. Kim Jong-il has always been bluffing, but the West has always had to take him seriously.
60. Frasier, Sam, Woody and Rebecca have never Cheerfully frequented a bar in Boston during primetime.
61. Major League Baseball has never had fewer than three divisions and never lacked a wild card entry in the playoffs.
62. Nurses have always been in short supply.
63. They won’t go near a retailer that lacks a website.
64. Altar girls have never been a big deal.
65.When they were 3, their parents may have battled other parents in toy stores to buy them a Tickle Me Elmo while they lasted.
66. It seems the United States has always been looking for an acceptable means of capital execution.
67. Folks in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have always been able to energize with Pepsi Cola.
68. Andy Warhol is a museum in Pittsburgh.
69. They’ve grown up hearing about suspiciously vanishing frogs.
70. They’ve always had the privilege of talking with a chatterbot.
71. Refugees and prisoners have always been housed by the U.S. government at Guantanamo.
72. Women have always been Venusians; men, Martians.
73. McDonalds coffee has always been just a little too hot to handle.
74. “PC” has come to mean Personal Computer, not Political Correctness.
75. The New York Times and the Boston Globe have never been rival newspapers.