(the further continuation of) a letter from an exhausted/exasperated young person who has a love/hate relationship with the church
Part 3 of 3
This is it. The conclusion. The third installment of a trifecta of posts that started with an entry which, to be honest, I figured would be read by a dozen or so people and quickly dissolve into the ether.
I was wrong.
The topic struck a chord with people. For some it resonated deeply and finally gave a voice to something they’ve been wrestling with. For others it was simply relegated to “more complaining from a narcissistic and me-centered generation of young people” (a sentiment I address in Part 2). This is an issue that many of been dealing with for close to 20 years now…while some are just now becoming aware of it. Regardless, in the time I have been wrestling with it, I have yet to see or participate in any sort of constructive dialogue about the issue. And that, in essence, is the form I would like Part 3 of this series to take.
So we (the Grünewald Guild) are inviting you to descend upon our campus September 21-23, 2012, for the sole purpose of spending a few days discussing, exploring and wrestling with the generational/cultural rift that is occurring within our churches. We’re calling it The Generation Conversation.
I would love to see churches sending ‘delegates’ of different ages to attend and join the conversation, and go back to their churches to share what they learned and begin dialoguing further. I would love to see young seminarians and ‘lifers’ from a variety of denominations sitting and conversing together in a room–for a weekend–about their thoughts on what it means to participate in community or be a member of a church, about what worship means to them and how they choose to express it, about the crises in the world and how they would like to see the church participating in their alleviation.
And I would love to see churches or individuals ‘sponsor’ a young person or seminarian to attend so that cost isn’t in any way an issue for someone who could be an invaluable participant in the conversation (we are only charging to cover expenses for lodging/food–as well as offering a student discount for less than that–but even that may be prohibitive to some).
Time will be spent learning about how we got to where we are…and where, exactly, we currently are. We’ll look at the various generations currently represented in modern congregations and some of the characteristics of each (and the major events that shaped their ethos and worldviews…and why this matters). We’ll spend time in a few spiritual disciplines to help guide us in this process, from examen to labyrinth-walking. We will have various sessions of open dialogue to explore these ideas and provide an opportunity for different members to give voice to their wants and desires, not in any sort of “listen to me-me-me” way, but in respectful and constructive conversation.
I realize many of the people who have followed these blog entries don’t reside within the Pacific Northwest, so traveling all the way out here to participate may be difficult (or flat out impossible). To that end I would love to have Tweets and blog posts being posted throughout the weekend (perhaps even a podcast to sum it all up?) so that you can participate as much as our 21st century technological rituals will allow. I want this to be inclusive and informative.
And most of all, incarnational.
Because of my frustation and critique of the church, some have assumed I must be “falling away” or giving up on it. Things couldn’t be further from the truth: if I were walking away from it, I wouldn’t spend NEARLY as much energy as I do participating in it. I definitely wouldn’t be as frustrated because I simply wouldn’t care. My (perhaps scathing) critique came from a deep-seated desire to see the church become as beautiful and compelling and restorative as I know she can be…so if this weekend ONLY results in some talking here and there, then I’m not all that interested. My hope is that participants will go back to their churches and seminaries and neighborhoods and authentically begin on the hard and difficult work of implementing and incarnating the things that are discussed.
Hope to see you in September.