How do we reach a jaded generation that is moving at warp speed? Those ministering to Generation X believe the key might lie in rethinking common assumptions about church strategies and structures.
For instance, churches will need to take into account buster cynicism about hierarchies. If there is a rallying cry for Generation X, it is best captured in the words of a popular bumper sticker: "Question Authority." Some Xers do not see the suspicion of authority or institutions as necessarily a negative characteristic. "We are not against commitment, we're just cautious," says Paula Esealuka, 29, "and that's healthy."
At the California-based Xer congregation known as NewSong, founder Dieter Zander (now a pastor at Willow Creek Community Church in suburban Chicago) used the servant-leader model and, based on staff input, did away with written reports and agenda-driven meetings. Instead, NewSong staff use voice mail and weekly meetings focused on the week's most urgent events and issues. Few of the staff are desk bound; they spend most of their time among their parishioners.
This is why buster churches like NewSong are quite simple, focusing their energies on small groups and ministry teams without forgoing high-quality programming.
In addition, researcher George Barna suggests that churches focus on Socratic teaching rather than the didactic style of preaching typical among evangelicals. "Don't tell them what to believe but rather create a discussion with provocative questions that will engage them," Barna urges.
Experts say another communication device effective for reaching this generation is storytelling. Evangelist Leighton Ford, who ministers to Xers, stresses the power of narrative preaching, particularly stories focused on ...1
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