X = The Bridge GenerationThe generation that inherited the radical challenges and culture-quake of the Boomers is caught between two worlds.
Driving along in my automobile my son beside me at the wheel, we are listening to a radio station play “classic” tunes from the 1980s! Besides the fact that “classic” and “1980s” should never be used in the same sentence (do you remember the synthesizer, leg warmers, New Coke, PTL Club, and the Hyundai Pony?), I nostalgically sing along and answer a child’s questions about the good old days. What has become of me?
It will be our turn … to embrace the leading and shaping of a church and culture.
This was, despite the Duran Duran influence, a divine moment as I became keenly aware of the synthesizing of my thoughts into crushing reality: I was born in the last century and I am old.
Many of you will think this a ludicrous statement. At thirty-five I am a spring chicken, a young pup, a mere bud on the branch to probably the vast majority of those reading these words, but that is precisely what troubles me. My generation – labeled “X” – is increasingly caught betwixt and between and indifferent about both poles. We are half-way but we’re not sure what we are half way from or to as we begin to find our legs, voice, and place in the world, let alone the church. Many of us are floundering because the world of our parents and the world swallowing us up are equally strange. Communism has been traded for Terrorism, Pacman eaten up by Halo; the Walkman overtaken by the iPod, Ethiopian famine eclipsed by AIDS, and the VCR – we’re still teaching our parents to run them and we don’t even use them anymore.
Let’s just say we who inherited the radical challenges and culture-quake of the Boomers are really caught between two worlds. We don’t understand the traditional world our Boomer parents sought to dismantle – even the most conservative of our parents dismantled something – nor this strange place in which we must raise our children – which is maybe why many of us are unsure about having kids at all. The “X” of my generation marks confusion.
This, however, reveals a challenge I throw at my generational comrades in hopes some catch it: Can we Christ-following Xers already turn our attention to the first true post-Christian generations? It will be our turn in the next few years – if it isn’t already – to embrace the leading and shaping of a church and culture. Like others before we will be tempted to champion our right to build it to our specs. Dare we lay aside this “right?”
Thankfully – what a gift of grace this may turn out to be – we mostly laugh disparagingly at our “good old days;” we can’t take them seriously. Perhaps we knew even then that the times were in transition as we created a culture symbolized by the moonwalk – going backwards while appearing to go forwards. Our mission – should we choose to accept it – may very well be to embrace the cost of laying ourselves down as a bridge. We are a demographic caught between a fading age and an emerging, yet fuzzy one. What great joy it may be for us to lie down and get walked on! First, by our Booming parents who will mourn a world that is no more and then by our children who need us to be a sure Christ-centered foundation, while not being expected to endure our forms, methods and confusions, as their link to a new day in which the naming of Jesus Christ as Lord is an affront to the Empire. I propose we are the perfect generation for this glorious task; we don’t know who we are or where we fit so we are free to be the bridge to a new day for future generations who may yet see class in us.
Phil Wagler is a generation X husband, father, and pastor in Zurich, Ontario. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Originally published in Canadian Mennonite, February 18, 2008.
Used with permission. Copyright © 2008 Christianity.ca.