The 20s and 30s

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Some of the most exhilarating and stimulating relationships I enjoy are with men and women in their 20s and 30s.

They are passionate. They haven’t been jaded by all the reasons why something “can’t be done” or why dreams have to be detached from reality. Many exhibit a wonderful holy discontent with forms of religiosity that have little to do with Jesus and kingdom realities. They crave authenticity and to be listened to and believed in. In my sphere of relationships, I find these men and women hungry to grow and remarkably responsive for anyone who genuinely engages in their lives.

What they don’t need is the dismissive patronization of existing institutional leaders and those committed to the things as they are in the church world. Consistent with the changing postmodern cultural ethos in which they have been nurtured, few younger leaders are concerned about “truth” as an abstract concept. Rather they are drawn to truth lived out with authenticity and integrity. It’s orthopraxy that trumps orthodoxy or should I say, demonstrates it.

What I find sad, at times, is the reactions of my over-50 peers. Rather than “being there” for the emerging generation, too often they resort to being critics. Alan Roxburgh in The Sky is Falling describes it this way:

“In one’s twenties and thirties, change is a like a drug—it energizes and excites because the world is there for the remaking. It’s not difficult to navigate change—our baggage is light, so we can pick up and move on quickly. All of life lies ahead of them and they can’t wait to get there.

But is it that simple? A majority of young leaders I’ve encountered feel adrift with a sense that they have few, if any, mentors who have gone ahead and can guide them along a safe path. This creates its own kind of anxieties, because so many of their experiments fail, resulting in all kinds of personal and relational uncertainties.

Lots of Emergent leaders are trying their experiments without the wisdom and maturity of others who have been down the same path and who understand the implications of what they are doing and who have the skills needed. Experimentation and not being prejudiced by the past can be wonderfully serendipitous values in the abstract, but in the hard reality of working with real people in real organizations, the results can be that they are like ships without earth anchors or compasses.”

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