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Is there really something new in the air? September 4, 2006

Posted by Cobus in Emerging Church, Emerging Culture, Ervaringsleer, Journal.
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These ideas have been lying in drafts for a few days now, and still I’m not sure that I should publish them, because I know that this is not a watertight argument, just some of my thoughts :

I’ve been challenged in the past few days. Challenged with the question of whether there is really something new going on. Are people really thinking differently? Is the society really changing?

Listening to some young people (14-17 year olds) today, I just realised that some things are changing. I notice the ways in which they are different than even I have been, and I’m only 5 or 7 years older than they are.

What I think I’ve noticed (I know this isn’t rocket science, and that a lot of people have said this in the past, but I’ve experienced it in a unique way today) is that these people are realising that they are growing up in a much more exposed world.

How many of us really had to deal with friends, when we were still at school, that would admit to being an atheist? When arguing isn’t solving the situation, neither is saying that they have to listen to me, and “I’m not going to listen to them” won’t work. And if pluralism isn’t really your thing, for a lot of people only one solution remains, and that is simply not to take part in difficult conversations about faith at all.

A group of High School teenagers showed some insight in this as well, when, in the form of images, they said that the task of youth workers is not to protect young people from the world, but to link with them while they still remain exposed to the world. Simply because according to them, you cannot keep them safe from the world the whole time.

We have to realise that the young Christians of today would have to internalise their faith much more, because it’s not the obvious thing anymore that you would simply be a Christian, and be that for the rest of your life. Giving them a set bunch of facts they have to memorise won’t be enough, because the conversation around them is simply getting too diverse. They must be better equipped to understand their own faith, if they are to take part in the conversations going around.

I won’t pretend that I have the answer, and I’m certainly not the first one to state the problem. But I think that one of the first steps would be to listen more, so that we can start learning what the questions really are, and not give them some irrelevant faith issue to work out, that is not what they have to deal with.

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