Depending on which source you consult, the Baby Boomer generation ended in 1962 or 1964. I was born in the tail end of ’62. The Cuban Missile Crisis had my parents thinking they’d never see their first child born, but JFK held firm and the Russians blinked.
I don’t consider myself a Boomer, though. I never saw much boom. The world doesn’t cater to me the way it did for the real Boomers. If anything, my life experiences have reflected the Buster generation more than the one I supposedly belong to.
I say that because the Boomers are on the wane. They’ve run the Church in this country for the last twenty years. And their legacy…well, let’s just say it hasn’t been stellar. No matter what polling data you consult, the facts are in: the American Church isn’t doing well.
Funny how that is, though. Time and Newsweek run cover articles trumpeting the ascendancy of Evangelicalism at the same time that thinking Evangelicals are scratching their heads trying discover ways to stem the pervasive rot within. If it wasn’t so sad it would be a good snicker.
But as the Boomers ride into the sunset—at least the first wave of them—it strikes me that we’re it. Those of us in the 35-50 year old range are the new leaders.
How will we lead? Or are we even in position to lead at all?
Some in the previous generation simply won’t budge, nor do they wish to share the stage with the up-and-comers. The Boomers won’t go quietly. Heck, they don’t do anything quietly, so why should they yield gracefully, especially with “The Legacy” issue still in place.
I think for a lot of Boomer leaders in the Church, their legacy stands incomplete so they’re going to stick around as long as they can. They’re seeing that their seeker-friendly churches cannibalized existing congregations more than they added new converts. And the converts they got through their dumbed-down Gospel haven’t really produced a lot of fruit. Those Boomer leaders tried but largely failed. And none of them want to leave on a down note.
A few young bucks decided to strike out on their own rather than labor in the shadow of some Boomer reluctant to give them a shot. I see guys like Mark Driscoll, Dan Kimball, and Rob Bell and wonder if they’re going to be the John Piper, Bill Hybels and Rick Warren of the future. Perhaps they already are, though they look little like their Boomer examples.
As for the rest of us in that 35-50 age group, folks, we’re it. Now’s the time for us to lead. We can’t be sitting around waiting for someone to mentor us. We need to be the visionaries. We need to be the ones mentoring. It’s grown-up time and we need to display some maturity. We can’t be sitting around soaking up the leftovers of the generation that came before us. We need to be seeking God for His direction through us.
By God’s grace, the Church is in our hands. What next?