Meanwhile, as Boomers have aged, they have been slowly distancing themselves from both conventional religious behaviors and beliefs – the typical expectation-breaking pattern we have come to expect from Boomers. (Just as they are reluctant to accept 65 as a reasonable or required age for retirement, so are they bucking the religious system regarding what to believe and carry out their beliefs.)
It’s amazing that a generation which is approaching eternity more rapidly than ever would ostensibly bail on their only hope out of it. But that’s the Boomers for you.
Although Barna attributes this to the Boomers’ counter-intuitive ways, there’s another culprit that needs to be identified: the simple fact that Boomers have run the church for all of these years. Or better, perhaps, they have run it in the ground, the same way they’ve done with the country at large. After a strong opening with such things as the “Jesus Music era,” they’ve gone on with such things as Gothardian authoritarianism (and that includes covenant communities), grandiose building schemes, prosperity teaching, misuse (or non-use) of emerging technologies, excessive accommodation of the culture to inflate membership and revenue, and endless attempts in one way or another to “take the city (or the country) for Jesus,” none of which were backed up by sufficient conviction to finish the job. The result we have now is a church that is in serious financial straits, clueless as to how to address its current situation, and now abandoned by members of its own generation which created the problem.
If we cannot hold our own generation, how can we expect to hold the ones down the road? The first step is to do now what Jimmy Buffett did in Margaritaville a long time ago: finger the culprit.