Tag, We’re It


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. Four generationsThe 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?

21 thoughts on “Tag, We’re It

  1. Jason Fitzpatrick

    I know this is off the subject but I was wondering if anyone knew of a group that had “all things in common” for greater productivity. Not a commune but simply a giving of all for the service of God. I am a missionary and am interested in evangelizing the world. I believe that it will only be possible if miraculously the church unified for this cause. I couldn’t find anything on this subject and hit the first comment button I saw. Thanks Jason

    • Jason,

      I’m afraid I don’t understand your question. Having all things in common implies some kind of communal existence, so you can’t make those mutually exclusive and have anything left to report. The Amish and some Mennonite groups are easy examples, but they do live in a communal living arrangement. A few non-Anabaptist groups do exist, but I can’t give you specifics. I have a few friends who lived in intentional Christian communities and more seem to be springing up. I wish I had more specifics, though. Shane Claiborne’s books might list a few.

      • Jason Fitzpatrick

        I am sorry I jumped in on a different subject but I am amazed to find very little on this Biblical reality. I wanted to bounce some of the things I have been studying off of others but could not find any blog on the subject. It seems that very few look having all things common seriously. Why do we have to live in a commune in order to live on sufficiency and the rest of our time and excess go to Gospel endeavors? It seems that everyone either goes capitalism or communism, like there is no in between. All or nothing with no one to balance the checkbook. What I see in Scripture are checks and balances.
        1. Do not lay up riches Mt. 6:19
        2. All proceeds above sufficiency goes to the Gospel 6:20
        3. Take no thought for our lives 6:31
        4. Use your mind and time for the kindgom 6:33

        I have a lot of information that uggests that this common creed was followed for nearly 250 years. Many early writings speak of a common Gospel which to me is living on sufficiency and all excess of time and resources go to the Gospel.

        • Jonathan


          You make some very good points. Unfortunately, one of them is that this was very much off topic for this post. However, I’d love to chat with you about it. Drop me a line at swordreader(at)gmail(dot)com and we can really go at it. You’ve tapped into one of my favorite topics.

          Dan, sorry to reply to this and not your post but seeing as how I’m more than ten years under the lower end of the age bracket you’re talking about, I don’t think this is really my discussion. But I do have one thing to say…”Amen”

        • Jason,

          I have written on this issue of community and wealth many times on this blog, though those posts are scattered in the “Work” and “Community” categories (which you can access in the sidebar menu).

          One post that explicitly talks about our failure at reducing duplication of effort is Work (and Everyday Life) Redeemed.

  2. I see the pronouns “I, me, my, we, us, our, you, them, their, it” in your column. I don’t see much about Him, though. 😉 But all kidding aside, hasn’t that been the typical Boomer mentality?

  3. Dave Corlew

    It is easy and common to criticize the generation in front of us; there is an inherent arrogance that implies “we could do better”. Every generation of the church has had it’s strengths and weaknesses. Why not merely acknowledge their good and humbly seek to learn from their perceived shortcomings? Lets not discredit others ministry so flippantly.
    The beauty of the gospel is that it can be contextualized for each new generation. Do what you need to do to be effective – to answer God’s call in your life instead of critiquing how other brothers answered their call.

    Who are these cantankerous Boomers who are reluctant to give young leaders a shot?? I’m curious.

    Are you connecting Hybels, Piper, and Warren with “those Boomer leaders tried but largely failed”???!!

    I too am a tail end Boomer who probably connects more with the Buster; someday soon the Millennials will be ripping on us. Lets stop playing the blame game.

    I have to admit – I hated the tone of your post… maybe its just too early on a rainy Monday morning…

    • Dave,

      It has been said that Christianity is always one generation away from extinction and that’s true on every level, so I make no apologies for what I said. My generation needs to step up to the plate. The older Boomers need to get out of the way, too, and stop criticizing the Busters for doing things differently.

      If we don’t like what the Church has become, then we need to fix it because judgment starts in the house of God. My generation has inherited a lot of mess because of the Church Growth Movement, the rise in the prophetic movement, and concessions to the entertainment mentality. The generation that came before me created those problems. I’m calling them on the carpet for it. I’m not alone in this.

      I’m also not alone in saying that my generation MUST do better. We must ask the tough questions the older Boomers ignored. We must be more self-critical. We must fix the problems handed to us.

      What we can’t do it pretend it’s business as usual. I see that in my generation. The truly young guns under 35 seem to be more serious about fixing problems in the church than my group is. If we don’t step up, then we’ll only hinder them.

  4. Don

    When I hear the generation of leaders in front of us talking about the “current generation”, I get the sense that they are leap-frogging Gen-X. Do you get that sense? It seems that they want to pull the leaders out of the younger generation.

    • Don,

      That’s a good question. I think the Busters are people without a country, so to speak. Only time will tell what will happen. In about fifteen years, we’ll know the truth.

  5. While I have participated in many good things led by Boomers I would say that one thing that marks them is the inability to let go. Thankfully some are better than others but the generation that build America after the war has done a poor job of letting a variety of gifts and personalities mark the church.

    That the church is fairly one-dimensional these days (one song, announce, greet, offering, more songs, preach, closing song, sip coffee, go home) can be attributed to a total lack of creativity and spontaneity. A lot of us younger people are willing to step outside of the box which I think is helpful. I do think we can bring what is important with us (ie. truth and worship).

  6. Jesus was so polite to the religious establishment of his day.

    One thing I might add is that we tend to get really myopic about what God is doing and where, as if American Evangelicalism is the major force of Christianity in the world. It isn’t. Putting some Phillip Jenkins and George Barna statistics together, we’re about 1/4 of 1% of the world’s Christians.

    Maybe a good first step would be a little humility. That we aren’t the leaders anymore (if we ever really were, seems to me we were just leading each other and not bringing about any real spiritual movement [I use movement as a verb] in overall Christendom. So much so, that perhaps it would be a fine idea to see just where God is working mightily in the world right now, who He’s doing it through, and learn from them. Africa and Korea comes to mind. (There are more Christians in Africa than there are people in the US.)

    If we don’t do this, we could be doomed to repeat the same mistakes, just manifested in different ways.

    What would a generation of believers filled with repentance and humility look like?

    • Lisa,

      I think a lack of overall humility is a pox on modern Evangelicalism. We’ve got cover articles on major newsmagazines talking about our power and influence! Wow! We’re HUGE!

      Yeah. And that “popularity” can all vanish overnight, too.

      • “Yeah. And that “popularity can all vanish overnight, too.”

        It would probably be the best thing that God could give us. (And it scares the pants off me to say it!)

  7. Laura Williams

    Ouch. Having just turned 50 this month, about the only thing I have to say is “Yeah, you are right.” We lost our vision post-college, didn’t we, letting the thorns of “cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word,’ and we became unfruitful. And we started out with the charismatic movement. Sad.

  8. Diane Roberts

    Several points, Where do I start? Well, I decided to do a post on my blog as a very long comment.

    But here I will say–you are putting John Piper in the same list as Rob Bell and Mark Driscoll? Oh my gosh! I hope not….LOL

    And, there is no generation 35-50. The youngest Baby Boomer is around 43 (that generation was born between 1946 and 1964). Their average age is 53. The generation between around 31-42 is called the Baby Busters.

    Sorry for the nitpicking. This post really set me off because–I agree with you 100% .

  9. i grow weary of the “age” discussion. i’m not criticising, it’s just that it seems like such an easy way out. I’m not drawn to or repelled by leaders because of their age, but rather their impact or lack of impact. I’m drawn to someone who seems to be making a difference for the Gospel no matter from which generation they hail.


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