I grew up on the other side of the generation gap. It was best not to trust anyone over thirty. The times they were a changin. Mothers and fathers throughout the land were advised not to criticize what they did not understand, and to realize that their sons and their daughters were beyond their command.
The idealism, hopes and dashed dreams of the Baby Boom Generation have been chronicled by a thousand analysts, and there are ten thousand opinions as to what they finally mean. Now on the way far side of thirty, that idealism and those hopes and dashed dreams seem to me sometimes quaint, at other times hugely consequential, and at still other times mostly sad. There’s not much left of them, at least not in their original form.
But the generation gap stubbornly remains, perhaps wider than ever, even if less distressing than when the phrase was first coined. If the generation gap is as wide or wider than ever, I’d put the blame squarely on the shoulders of those of us on the other side of the trust fault.
By the time an American child is fourteen or fifteen years old, we’ve figured out how to keep them out the house for fourteen or fifteen hours a day every day. We’ve outsourced many of our parenting responsibilities and feel mostly responsible for finding more things for our kids to do, things that inevitably take them out of the family circle and community of faith. We roll our eyes when we talk about teenage kids and shrug our shoulders as we decide there’s not much we can do considering those raging hormones and all.
Well, that’s a dismal assessment of things. But while painted with broad strokes, I’ll stick with it. That’s why I am so excited about this weekend.
Later tonight we begin a packed-full 24-hour Confirmation Retreat. I can hardly wait. We will be at a retreat center out near Morgantown, PA. Carol Casten and I will be primary leaders and it looks as if Ed White will join us for part of our time together. I think we’ve got some fun stuff planned. But our main agenda item will be thinking, we will be thinking about God and faith and life. The kids are ready for thinking.
When we look at our kids as mostly a bundle of raging hormones, as needing to be programmed to death, we can miss some of the amazing things God is doing in their lives. And one of those things is how, by age fourteen of fifteen, they’ve begun to think and think deeply – not just about sports and band, text messaging and popularity. They think deeply. It’s sometimes hard to articulate deep thoughts and they may not have come to any conclusions, but there’s a lot of good thinking that goes on in fourteen or fifteen year-old’s life. All year long our confirmation program helps kids find the best answers to their deepest questions; we take their ability to think very seriously.
In the church those of us on the other side of the generation gap cheat our kids when we assume a five-minute devotional and an occasional talk about dealing with raging hormones suffices for Christian discipleship. I see my face in the mirror when I say that.
Our Confirmation program at LPC makes several assumptions. We assume that there is information worth mastering – things about the Bible and the life of Christ. We assume that some answers in life are better than other answers; that Christian faith offers the best answers. We assume, because we know it’s true, that the lives of our fourteen and fifteen year-olds, all the rest of their lives, will go better if lived in a relationship with Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
And we assume that kids can think, because we know it’s true.
Pray for our Confirmation Retreat, and see you Sunday