Thursday, April 27, 2006

Question for ThirtySomethings

My new pet theory is that thirty-somethings like myself grew up in "unusual times" and was wondering if my own anecdotal evidence matches other people's.

When I went to the same Church as Dave, I noticed something really odd at the young adults group. While the group was mostly comprised of devoted Christians, most of them were following a path at odds with the direction their parents gave them. Namely, their parents were fairly nominal or even downright opposed to the Christian faith. I noticed this same pattern in several other young adult groups as well. Conversely, this Church had devoted Christians of my parents generation whose children had stopped attending Church. This was so prevalent that I began to think of this as the norm. Strong Christians coming from a strong Christian family seemed the exception rather than the rule.

But maybe that was just an unusual phenomenon. I hardly think that the flow of Christianity in a nation's history consists of two groups of people flip-flopping to the other side. I really don't think we should be rewording the hymn "Faith of our Fathers" to "Faith of our GrandFathers". Surely God's grace isn't like a good Star Trek movie, subject to the curse of the odd-numbers.

I look at the young adults now and the active Christians tend to come from, surprise surprise, strong Christian families. I'm beginning to think that's the usual pattern and that my generation was a little weird in that the Christian faith in the young usually seemed opposite to the parents.

Anyone else noticed stuff like this?


Dave King said...

you are comparing Catholic to Baptist groups right?

- Peace

Richard said...

Actually no, I'm comparing time frames. My observation seems to cut across denominational boundaries. The Catholic young adults I knew when I was a young adult seemed for the most part to correspond to Baptist young adults in that they had faith despite not because of their parents.

Ten years later, I see a "different" pattern. My question is whether the pattern I noticed during my early twenties was the exception rather than the norm.

kris said...

That sounds somewhat like the situation at the church where I grew up. I would say my parents' generation seemed to be more about status and rules (unless you had status in which case the rules were a little more flexible). I think my generation saw that and what came out of it and thought there must be more to church than this. However, I do think there was a crowd in my age group that felt like there was an in crowd and an out crowd and they were on the outs. So their view of our generation may be different than mine.

The young people who were one age-group up from me all left the church by the time they were 20 and their parents were in the same category as mine (as you get older the categories get larger).

It remains to be seen how our kids will fair, since none of us have any.

kris said...

PS - I'm not quite 30 something so that might skew my perspective :-)

Richard said...

Your description of the people "one age group up" from you certainly fits the pattern I noticed (It also fits nicely with you being a little younger than me). Namely, they grew up in the Church and then abandoned it.

But curiously enough that age group saw a proportionately large amount of people who did not grow up in the Church or grew up fairly nominally and then entered the Christian community with great enthusiasm and dedication.

I have heard Protestants and Catholics point out that the people of my parents generation grew up at the dawn of the "free love" era and that there is a corresponding gap in Church attendance coinciding with that generation.

Lisa S said...

I can't seem to find a pattern in my own experience. Sometimes I've been in a group dominated by new christians and sometimes by kids from christian homes, and sometimes an even mix. The twenty somethings at my last church were predominantly left handed.

A lot of people I know left the church after bible college, but I think that says more about bible college than anything else, and that's a whole other discussion.

I keep being surprised by the kids I work with now, that some of them have such a mature faith at a young age. I hope they don't go to bible school.