About 20 years ago I was in a church youth group. I was in it for most of my teens. We used to go to all kinds of events geared at young people. Some were low-key, some were huge. Some had all kinds of weird cultish things going on. One I went to had a performance by Cliff Richard (who was alright, to be fair).
One of the things we were constantly told by the people running these sort of shows was that God had ‘great plans’ for our generation. That there was a generation ‘rising up’ who were going to be ‘history makers’ and all that sort of stuff. Deeply spiritual, prophectic leaders were going to emerge and all kinds of God stuff was going to happen. Even, maybe, whisper it in case you scare it away, but ‘revival’ might break out!
I’d forgotten all about those promises until today whan I saw this tweet from Krish Kandiah, who works for the Evangelical Alliance and blogs interestingly about stuff.
There it is again – a generation on from my ‘rising generation’, it seems there is a new generation rising. Krish wants to disciple them, which you could cynically regard as code for ‘tell them how to conform to established patterns of orthodox Christian thought’.
But it made me think of my own generation and what happened to us. Okay, a good few members of my youth group have gone on to become committed members of churches, some even as elders or pastors or whatever. But the revival never came and now it seems we aren’t going to be the generation that brings it in. That mantle has been passed on.
Maybe it will keep getting passed on. Maybe ‘rising generation’ is a label that we use because we don’t want to admit that we grew up and stopped believing the hype. When we wandered into sticky theological treacle, when the marriages that people kept themselves pure for started to break down, when we stopped seeing through dark glasses and actually began to realise that churches were led by fallible, human people, and the book we trusted in was fallible and human too, then maybe we stopped being the generation that would shake the world.
When our friends died of cancer despite our prayers and God wouldn’t or couldn’t – or all we can be sure of is that God didn’t – step in and spare them that horrible death, then maybe something died in us.
Not hope, but hype.
We were never the rising generation – that expectation put on us was unfair and untrue. We were just one more in a line of generations who remain faithful despite failure.