Saturday, October 27, 2007

Sermon on 20-something generation

So what would a sermon designed to help other generations understand the unique aspects of being a 20-something look like? Isn't it interesting that we have a record of Jesus as a baby and a 12 year old. Then it picks up with his public ministry at about age 30. But we have nothing about his twenties. I wonder what he was like as a 25 year old?

Help an old baby boomer preacher be your advocate. Tell me what others need to know about your generation.



Erin said...

Hey Dr. Beckett, Jenny sent me here for your question and I thought I'd take a crack at it. I'm living in Tallahassee now and I joined a UM church about 3 years ago. I got recruited to run the Young Adult ministry almost right away so I've been working for the 20 something set for a while now. One of our biggest challenges is the great diversity of spiritual commitment and life situations that people my age come from. There is a thriving pocket of young adults with infants. They really have gotten to be friends. And we have a group of mainly singles that is growing. That is an interesting group because it is made up of some older more mature people (like grad students and young professionals) who sought out a church home but also includes some local college students who grew up in the church, many who just came out of the youth group. To say these two groups have different priorities would be an understatement. For that latter group it is mainly a social hour. It makes me a little sad that youth groups don't do a better job at fostering spiritual growth.

So some insists about my generation...

In a time of MySpace and AIM we know that connection is cheap. A Facebook friend is not a real friend. I think that we are good at seeing disingenuous hospitality, it's not good enough to just say hi. You have to really care about my life. And nothing is more annoying than being asked your name over and over by the same person.

We care about service and social justice. In December, my church of 2000 will have 3 20something single adults who are international missionaries. One of the biggest turn outs we had for our young adult group was when we helped a family move to a new house. Popular topics of discussion include Darfur and Cuba. 25 percent of our church's representatives on the local interfaith ministries team are 20 somethings. And when the new associate pastor was moving in and calls where made for people to come greet her , get groceries, make dinner etc., the senior pastor and his wife, the chairman of staff parish and 4 20 somethings showed up.

So there is a start, I'll think about it a bit more and come back a comment so more. Good luck on your sermon.

Yours, Erin Thompson

dave said...


Thanks for writing. I had written a response to your comment but have recently discovered that it never got posted.

I think your observation about the diversity of spiritual commitment and life situations is right on. So much of ministry seems to be about finding common ground with people. In the church in order to accomplish this we create groups to help people connect. So it becomes age, or gender, or interests, or marital status, or whatever that is the basis of helping people find common ground. But this should not be the central common ground that is used to create Christian community. It can be a stage or step that leads to deeper koinonia which transcends age, gender, etc. How do we get to this stage? That is the big question.

Katie said...

Hi Dave,
I am a part of Jenny's young adult group in Dayton, Ohio. Having recently graduated from college last May... I am still trying to figure out what this whole "20 something", thing is? I mean being a "20 something" now, is very different then when my parents were "20 somethings". I kind of think that things were simpler when my parents graduated... they had a plan... get married, have babies... and so on. But now it isn't like that....people aren't getting married till they are 30 something.
Also, I graduated with a degree, and got in my field and now am like ... Is this what I am going to do for the rest of my life? Our generation is not easily satisfied... everything in our lives has become faster and better! My generation wants results (or the perfect job) now! And I am unfortunately one of them.
In terms of our spiritual lives... those of us who have christian backgrounds want MORE! We don't just want to sing and clap along... we want to be fully emmersed in it! It is such a hard balance. I am not sure if any of this made sense... it is a frequent topic of conversation amoung our young adult group. Right now I am trying to live a christ driven life... and now thankfully I have people around me to help me achieve it!

Kamala said...

Hi Dr. Beckett,

I'm another one of Jenny's Dayton young adult crowd. :-)

One of the thing that I've observed is that a lot of people seem to assume that today's 20somethings are similar too or the same as today's pre-teens and teens - tech savy and immersed in the digital culture. To some extent this is true: we tend to be a computer-savy, connected generation. But, we started out our lives without those tech-heavy connections - most of us did not use computers much, if at all, when we were in elementary and even middle school. We don't quite fall into the soundbite generation. When we learn about things, we want to know a lot about them. We're still interested in attending (hour+) lectures and we get frustrated by magazine articles that are only three paragraphs long. Our generation wants to explore and discuss the ins and outs of a topic, whether it be atrocities in Darfur, the saving grace of Christ, or a debate over whether Bugs Bunny is a better role model than Buzz Lightyear.

Hope these thoughts help and thanks for listening!

:-) KC

dave said...


Why wouldn't you want and expect the perfect job or great results NOW. That's how you have been shaped by a culture that has catered to your every and immediate need or desire. It seems to me that one of the spiritual challenges for your generation is to be counter-cultural, i.e., to become aware of how the faith journey moves in opposite directions from today's immediate gratification culture.

dave said...


Your comments inspire me. It relates to my response to Katie about young people being shaped to want things now. You talk of rejecting this cultural value and wanting to go deep into issues. Good for you!