Answering Your Questions 1

Well here is the first episode of me answering your questions, well at least one of them. Thanks to all of those who have sent in questions.  In this vid I respond to a question from Dave who asks how do you practically minster to Young People who have been idolised by their parents.

Watch me inappropriately reference the Seinfeld Bubble Boy episode, talk about Fairtrade motorcycles, try to remember the lyrics to a Pussy Cat Dolls track and coin a whole new phrase into the English language “A Piece of Pen”; all the while giving you practical tips on Youth and Young Adults ministry.

Feel free to leave a question in the comments page below if you have any other Youth or Young Adult culture and ministry questions.

Gen Y role models for losing faith.

The fact that young adults are leaving the church in the West in droves is hardly new news to any of us. (You can download my PDF resource at to some of the reasons why here.) However what a lot of parents, pastors and leaders don’t know is that pop culture provides models and examples to Gen Y’s of how to turn your back on your faith.

Many of the pop culture role models that Gen Y young women have grown up with have moved from Christian teens to secular young women. Their behaviour charts a pattern that many young christian women counsciously or sub consciously mimic on their own journey’s away from faith.

Probably the most classic example is Britney Spears. If you are a 20 year old female Britney has dominated your pop culture consciousness since you were 11. Britney of course began here career espousing her Christian faith and her commitment to maintaining her virginity until marriage. However only a few years later we had the hypersexualized Britney in a wedding dress making out with Madonna, an image that was seen by millions if not billions around the world. Britney seemed to be playing out the classic Christian teen rebellion against her upbringing in front of the world, I remember clearly footage taken at a church service of Britney’s mother leading her down the front at an altar call in a hope to rehabilitate her daughter.

Young women have also grown up with Jessica Simpson, another singer marketed to teens and tweens, who also began espousing her commitment to keeping herself for her husband. Simpson began in Christian music, however just like Britney we only have to fast forward a few years, to find our former Christian recording artists, belting out a Nancy Sinatra cover writhing over a car in a bikini. Simpson now publicly states that she has left behind ‘religion’ and now favours a loose spirituality.

Now we have Preachers kid Katy Perry (see pic above left), who’s song “I kissed a Girl” is topping charts around the world. The song extols the virtue of girls kissing other girls in order to impress boys, and features Katy surrounded by females in various states of underwear and undress. What was Katy’s last album? Yep, you guessed it! A christian gospel album.

When you read interviews with these Gen Y stars the mantra of the day is can be summed up by Rihanna’s album title ‘Good Girl Gone Bad’. Gen Y’s live in a culture in which they are taught to live experientally, they are taught to experiment, sample, and then discard. One month it might be ecstasy, the next month Church, the next month casual sex.

Experiences can be consumed and then dropped in the blink of an eye. In this culture, foundational truth is irrelevant, all that matters is the accumulation of ‘fun’ experiences. Feelings rule over facts. This is not the postmodernism of the academy that so many Christians were worried about in the 90’s, this is the day to day operational postmoderism that Gen Y has grown up with Christian or not.

Strangely things seemed to have reversed now, in the past people went a bit wild in their teens and settled down. Now in our superflat culture it seems that faith is a ‘crazy’ thing that you do in your late teens and early twenties, an almost necessary but childish phase that you experience before you get real and commit to the ‘play ethic’ of hedonism.

Emerging’ Church is a Gen X not a Gen Y Phenomenon

I talked last time about how the Emerging Church is not a theological movement but a reaction to mass culture. 

The Emerging Church is also about Gen X culture.

The Contemporary Church model of grew out boomer culture, and thus naturally reflecting many of its values. So it is with the Emerging Church, which grew out of Gen X culture, reflecting many of its shared values.

Yeah but i heard you say that you don’t believe in generational theories. Don’t worry I did not either, that was until my phone started running hot with calls from Gen X young adult and youth pastors who were tearing their hair out trying to get their heads around Gen Y’s and their culture. So I read everything on Gen Y and interviewed as many Gen Y’s as I could, and it dawned on me they were totally different to Gen Xrs. If anything Y’s are more like boomers than Gen Xrs, hence the reason why advertisers call them echo boomers. They are boomers on steroids.

(and of course we are generalizing, you have to do that with cultural analysis Silly!)

Then it went crazy, everyone seemed to want to get their heads around Gen Y. I ran seminars, did consulting, and spoke with leadership teams, helping them get their heads around Gen Y. My colleague Sarah Deutscher and I even made a DVD for leaders to get their heads around Gen Y. Then two bombshells dropped for me.

The Emerging Church is Gen X

One day I was preparing a slide for my powerpoint presentation on Gen Y which compared the cultural values of Gen X vs that of Gen Y. As I looked at the left of the slide which described the values Gen X, I suddenly realised that I could replace the header of Gen X with Emerging Church. The value matched.

The second bombshell hit as I was at an “emerging church” conference. The person up the front was describing the emerging church as the newest expression of church. As I looked around the room I noted that the average age in the room was around the late thirties to forties mark. Not exactly the youngest group in the world! Down the road meeting at the same time was a large pentecostal Young Adult conference, for 18-25’s over 8 thousand people were in attendance.   

Lots of Gen Y’s tell me that they find themselves ‘out of place’ at emerging church events. They find the Xrs too obsessed with consensus and navel gazing; Y’s see Xrs as too negative and cynical. Gen Y’s have told me that they find Gen Xrs judgemental of Y’s confidence and aspirational values. 

Gen Y’s like action rather than talk, they like to be told in which direction to march, they don’t want to discuss the nature of truth they want to conquer and change the world. They know that they are children of consumerism, however they don’t pretend they they are not like their older Gen X siblings.

Strangely the emerging church may in the next few years find itself being hit by a boomerang of critique. Those charges of irrelevance that have been directed at the contemporary/boomer church just might to come back to bite them on the behind.

Welcome to Youngistaan!

My neighbourhood is currently seeing an influx of Punjabi migrants from India, most of whom are middle to upper class Sikh people. As a result the bigger churches in my area don’t look as large, when compared to the local Sikh Gurdwara (temple) which now is home to over 1000 worshippers. Of course this has meant that it has become quite normal to see older Sikh men walking around in their traditional turbans and women in their saris. However I have watched with fascination how the younger members of the Sikh community seem to be expressing their culture and faith. Instead of turbans and saris, the Punjabi youthtend to show their commitment to faith by giant car stickers featuring  a strange synthesis of traditional Sikh symbols and hip hop slang such as ‘Punjabi’s on da rize!’.

This mash-up of traditional Indian with western youth culture is symbolic of the emergence of a new kind of young person that is appearing on the Indian sub-continent. Half of India’s one billion people are under twenty five. Whilst many of these youth live in abject poverty, the growing middle class is being spied with envy by youth marketers who are keen to get their hands on their estimated $10.5 billion dollars in disposable income.  

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