Monday, March 8, 2010

Bring the Theology!

Did you see the recent findings of the Pew Forum on the Millennium Generation?  This generation has an even higher portion of young people who identify as athiest/agnostic/non-religious than ever before!  So take that Gen-Xers!  You thought you were so non-religious...well it turns out you're quite conventional.  In fact, the study indicates that every generation is conventional.  The older people get, the more religious they get.  The myth that people will "come back to church" when they are older isn't totally untrue!  The problem is that not everyone comes back.  And with that means as time goes on the attrition rate compounds like a sick investment you don't want to be in, but can't pull out of.

This report affirms what I already knew after reading a book everyone who works with youth in a religious capacity should read: Soul Searching by Christian Smith.  That book lays out in scientifically rigorous detail the cold hard facts of religious inculcation in America it is spectacularly conventional!  Young people almost always echo the beliefs of their parents.  In other words, it's not difficult to instill religious sensibilities in young people.  It happens naturally!

The phrase, "Spritual but Not Religious" is meaningless.  Yound people don't say that, don't claim that, but we like to think they do.  Religous leaders like to think that there is a whole generation of "seekers" out there who are just waiting to find a slick blog, connect on facebook, or watch a compelling youTube video and be "saved."  But guess what?  It ain't gonna happen.  That's not what young people want, and its not what they need.

So what do we need (I am a young person after all)?  What will stem the tide of each generation becoming slightly more non-religious?


Theology is the way a group of people talk about God.  But communication doesn't happen merely with words.  So theology is more than words.  It is the way in which God is communicated.  How is God being communicated?

In the upcoming conference, Theology After Google (TAG), a lot of people will be weighing in on this question in light of new technologies.  This is great.  I hope that the very talented and gifted (tag) people who are speaking at TAG will raise the bar.  I truly hope nobody spends too much time on the supposedly "spiritual but not religious" generation that doesn't exist in any demonstrable way.

Rather, give your best theological pitch.  Throw something out there that is risky but imaginative.  Get to the heart of what matters: theology!  Don't waste our time trying to sell a bunch of already mostly tech-savvy people on Web 2.0, or even worse, don't attempt to convince already hard working pastors that if only they use Facebook they can save their churches.  Let's be real.  Facebook won't save the church.  We need theology.  So bring it!


Tripp said...


Angelina Duell said...

Solid Post!

Callid said...

Amen indeed Wes. I'm looking forward to meeting you tomorrow!

jinjanblog said...

Awesome post Wes!