Yet again I have been pegged by journalists and marketers. After years of erroneously thinking I was an original creation, I have found that I am nothing but just another GRUP, or YUPSTER or Alterna- Yuppie, along with everyone else within the bowels of the emerging church conversation. Adam Sternbergh has declared himself and other Thirty-somethings that refuse to grow up as a specific cultural group in New York magazine.
According to this excellent article you must read (and find resonance and resistance with its stereotypes and assumptions), there is a group of formerly designated Gen Xers that are destroying the generation gap by identifying with those born much later, dressing like kids, listening to indie bands, hating the idea of being "the man" and refusing to head to gymboree for parent/child time.
Although many would attempt to deny this, I believe this cultural dynamic is tied to the emerging church movement in ways yet unexplored. When reading this article and studying it, we would say that it is shallow and we are much deeper than this article presents. We would say that identity is less important than theology, etc. However, what about us has led us to this desire for a fresh theology, cultural identity and desire for missional approaches to ministry? It is not because we all discovered Newbiggin and Grenz in a vacuum, or came to our ministry positions after class time with Derrida and Foucault.
We came to philosophical, missiological and theological positions out of who many of us are. Many of us came to the emerging church, missional approaches to ministry, the writings of postmodernists and missionaries, deeper expressions of spirituality and new theological forms from the Cure and the Smiths, from Independent Film, from Converse Allstars and bed hair. We found common ground in the emerging church for our granola eating ways, independent approach to commerce and love of the Simpsons.
Because we were who we are, we found the emerging church. Because we were not in the mainstream to begin with, whether it was tattoos and piercings, alternative medicine and organic food, art house films and leftist politics or Fugazi and T-shirts. What interests me is where many of us will journey as we age and the conversation we helped begin continues to mature and gain mainstream acceptance.
Will we age gracefully, becoming like the old guard of Evangelicalism or mainline theologians in our approach (yes, becoming the MAN). Or, like this article alludes to, will we find a new way to mature and lead, one which will continue to frustrate those looking to younger emerging leaders to follow in their footsteps, but one which will make its own mistakes, not repeating those of past grown ups? Only time will tell if we stand the test of time.*
*I felt it appropriate to end this article with a reference to an 80's band. I also admit that this article and my response could be full of BS. It could be that my high school reunion is this weekend and I am finding it troubling that I have to grow up.
*yes, I am overstating things just a bit. I know some people were jocks in High School that beat up on nerds and only came to the light later. I know others were good Christian kids that listened to Amy Grant, wore golf shirts and attended Christian colleges, only to come to the dark side later.
This article has been around since April I believe. I have attempted to write about it numerous times, putting it off until I had deeper insights into the connection between the emerging church and this demographic. As you can see, the inspiration never came.