Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Do you remember a time when you believed the hype?

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.


  1. Hi Jon
    thanks for your blog post - you make some important observations that I have tried to listen to and process in a blog post - so we don't make the same mistakes again - any suggestions of how we do things better into the future?


  2. Anonymous1/2/12 15:02

    Excellent response, couldn't have put it better myself. Programmes, plans, excitement, aspiration... but the reality of human lives?

  3. If I read it correctly, No well kind of....The Hype aspect of this statement is very true especially when there is a group of young people who think they are "the one generation" Joshua wouldn’t be anybody if it wasn’t for Moses. Elisha wouldn’t not have done what he did without Elijah. I like what was said, we are all in line faithfully serving our purposes. This has had a habit of breeding a generation that thinks they know better than the one that has walked before it. This tendency has allowed a gap between generations as well as some generations don't see much happen. If we like Joshua honor Moses ( the older generations) we have the ability to stand on their shoulders and take the land (the inheritance the children of God are promised) The bible says if we honor someone that holds authority in christs body we have the ability to draw from their reward. "If you receive a prophet in the name of the prophet" Matthew 10:41 We need to stand on the shoulders of those that have walked before us and the only way to do that is to honor them. This is how we receive the reward and our reward is the revelation of Jesus Christ and revelations that bring heaven to earth. This is the key to building the Church/the Victorious Bride in this hour. You can see this throughout history the past generations brought things back to the church that had been sleeping for a long time. For example: healing, missions movement, the prophetic, the father heart of God, the heart of worship, the prayer movement, religion vs. relationship. Church government (apostle, prophet, evangelist..etc.) The very missions movement is birthed and alive today because some in there generations knew God has something new and exciting for them. These are all things that God has brought back to the church in the past 500 years. We would not be able to be where we are at if it wasn't for the generations that walked before us and knew that there was more to this promise that Jesus has said. We also can't minimize the work of those that walked before us. The fought and contended for the breakthrough and freedom we have today. This generation has its own specific purpose and it is great. its new and exciting and in some ways there should be a hype about that. Why wouldn't we be excited about God is doing in our generations? We cannot have expectations too high for God. Our God is the God of miraculous. Lets us be like David and serve our purpose for our generation. ( Acts 13:36) Let us not lose excitement for what God is doing in our generation. The great commission is going out into all the nations. Revival is happening. The church is waking up to the Holy Spirit and Gods power. These are exciting times and to be honest I am hyped. I want to do what the Lord is calling me to do for this generation. I am not saying that I am personally going to usher back the king and the clouds will open but I am saying that I am playing my part and I can step back and be hyped up about that.

  4. Anonymous4/2/12 06:36

    I have one question.

    "actually began to realise that churches were led by fallible, human people, and the book we trusted in was fallible and human too"
    - what do you mean by the second part of that? can you explain what you mean by fallible and human in regards to the Bible?

  5. @Spence

    I'm glad you're hyped.

    I have to admit I'm not. I don't really believe that this is a more special time than any other in history.

    I feel bad saying that and I'd be happy to be proved wrong.


    I was raised believing the Bible was some kind of magical book that was absolutely right about everything. But now I think of it more as a collection of human testimonies to what God has done, and therefore it could be flawed because its human authors weren't perfect.

    So, for example, some bias based on the prevailing cutoms and culture of the time may have crept in (e.g. regarding gender roles). Writers may have interpreted certain events in a way we wouldn't (e.g. 'divine commands' to engage in warfare).

    There's a useful distinction that the theologian Karl Barth made popular: Is the Bible the Word of God, or does it contain the words of God? I have moved from the first preposition to the second. Which is why I said the Bible was fallible and human.

    FWIW I don't think this reduces the importance of the Bible in informaing the outworking of Christian faith.

  6. Anonymous4/2/12 20:37

    The Word of God is infallible. The problem has been in the way humans have interpreted the Word to make it fit what we want it to say and our own agendas

  7. @Anonymous

    I think that's a semantic point.

    I don't see any logical point to believing that the Bible is infallible but human interpretation and application are flawed.

    Two things to say on it.
    1) It makes no difference whether it's infallible or not if we can't interpret it or apply it correctly.
    2) I'm not sure whether we can say it's infallible given our tendency to reach different interpretations based on it. (Or to put it another way, it may be infallible, but it isn't clear, so in that way it fails to reveal God adequately)

    And a final point, many of the claims about the Bible (infallibility, inerrancy etc.) aren't claims found in the Bible itself. If we're going to base doctrines on opinions, then let's at least pick some that are useful to us.

  8. Infallible? I don't know.
    Amazing? Absolutely.

    I think that's why I prefer to think of it as a "Holy Remarkable Book" - it could almost have "Don't Panic" written in large friendly letters on the front.

    It's not the kind of book that should be ignored.

  9. I'd love a Bible with 'Don;t Panic' written on the front.

    Don't think Douglas Adams would have approved, however, given his antipathy towards religion.