The Function, or Curse, of Young People

Bible Study magazine runs an interview every issue. There have been some really good ones with people from all over the globe. The latest issue features a professor from Hong Kong.

His focus is on building bridges between the “old guys”–church leadership–and young people.

It seems that the younger generation just doesn’t accept teaching from pastors or other older teachers unquestionably. They like to express their thoughts. They like to question things. They are also the first generation in 150 years not brought up under British rule. They are also questioning the Chinese authorities.

He, quite naturally, thinks this is unique.

People said that about my generation, too. That was the 60s. Remember those days? (If you say yes, you weren’t there, so the joke goes.)

Writers from Western Europe and America going back perhaps 200 years  or more also seemed to reflect this questioning of authority before becoming the authority.

Think Luther. Or Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and their friends.

I like to reckon that large companies (IBM was famous for this) only hire A students. Why? They are trainable. They are quick to learn new facts and give the facts back.

We poor B students–we were always questioning, looking for a better way, wanting to go our own way. We didn’t get hired by IBM into nice jobs with big salaries. We kept trying to change the world.

(That analysis, by the way, is obviously a crude generalization. But think about it for a minute. Where do you fit?)

So, I applaud those young people in Hong Kong who want to hold their elders accountable–both secular and religious. And I applaud people like this professor who tries to build bridges. Listen to younger people. But then push back on them to force them to think through first opinions and mature as thinkers.

It tells me there is hope for the future of Hong Kong. What is this like in your community and your church? Do you freeze out young people because they ask questions, or do you welcome their questions and meet them honestly?

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