Magazines help me understand and keep connected with individuals and groups with perspectives that are different from mine. Relevant magazine, for example, keeps me in better touch with twentysomething people, at least with those who are Christian, Caucasian and American. This month (March, 2013) the magazine celebrates its tenth anniversary, including a look at “things that defined the last decade, people who rose in influence, and emerging challenges” that face a younger generation.
- Influential trends include: a new involvement in social justice, a redefinition of “pro-life” to include concerns about millions who die from hunger and wars, a new willingness to be comfortable with doubt, the increasing numbers of young people who see no need for denominations, a growing belief that there is no difference between the sacred and what is secular, a disinterest in political parties and their self-centered squabbling, and a move from “me-centered Christianity (including megachurch comfort and feel-good music) to missional living” that focuses less on getting people into church and reaches to people outside the church.
- Influential people mostly highlights authors who impact younger Christians. This is a diverse group except they are all white and mostly male. They include Shane Claiborne, Francis Chan, Tim Keller, Jon Foreman, Donald Miller, Michael Gungor, Bono and Lauren Winner.
- Challenges facing the next generation include figuring out why the local church matters and how it can be more relevant (without losing its core theology and purpose), putting a plug on cynicism, reversing prevailing views of marriage (44% of 18-29 year-olds believe marriage is becoming obsolete), developing a faith-perspective on immigration, and finding ways to connect with the “nones” – the growing number of people who check “none” when asked to identify a religious preference.
Why care about this? Lists like these keep changing. Question different groups and the results will be different. Survey summaries rarely apply well to individuals so why bother? The answer is that knowing trends can help us communicate and relate better to twentysomethings and other groups. When you don’t know your audience or target groups your impact is lessened.
Please comment with your reaction. Why did you read this to the end?