Kerry Marnane examines what discipleship means for an emerging generation in the church.
As a member of Generation Y, I have heard the labels so often attributed to us. True, we are as a whole reluctant to commit—be it to events, careers or relationships; and we so often display a sense of entitlement—to a better future, better opportunities and higher standard of living. In general we are tech-savvy, well-travelled, have higher incomes, more education and lower tolerance for inconsistency than any previous generation.
In this sort of environment it is hardly surprising that the biggest challenge faced by Australian evangelists is apathy. Young would-be Christians are wondering how faith could possibly improve their lives. Some would see this as a cause for concern for the future of the Church. As a young Christian, I too am concerned, but I do not believe it is a case of Christianity being irrelevant. It is a case of demonstrating its relevance in a society that offers so many competing and contrary views and temptations.
We need to explore what it truly means to be a disciple of Jesus. For example, through answering the challenging questions of my peers, I find myself delving deeper into my Bible, or seeking answers from the community of faith of which I am a member. As a young Christian, I often examine some of the traditional operations, views, and practices of the Church: Are they directly related to Jesus’ message, and our commissioning? By upholding these, am I demonstrating my lived experience of relationship with God? Often the answer is yes, but in true Gen Y form, if I cannot see the point or connection, or I sense insincerity,
I want to distance myself from that practice or view. However, when on board, we Gen Ys are passionate members of the faith community, with the added bonus of being information-hungry, innovative—and handy with a computer.
As a disciple, I want to share God’s message of love and redemption with others, particularly with those my age. I know many in my circle of Christian friends, family, and my local congregation are also passionate about discipleship with young people, and are frustrated by the dwindling numbers of young people in our faith community.
But the one thing that really, truly, encourages me as a disciple is walking alongside those through whom I can clearly see God’s transforming love and grace flowing. You can’t buy that online!
The Gap Uniting Church