Our goal, along this spectrum, was to talk about how the Christian faith community should engage.
Specifically, we wanted to see if we could come to some consensus that transcended particular generation, denomination, political affiliation, etc., and be of potential use for other intergenerational churches and groups.
Who Was There
3 generations were represented. There were 4 Millennials (born 1981-1997), 4 Boomers (born 1946-1964), and 2 Builders (born 1928-1945).
2 Blind Spots
1. As it turned out, the group able to be present for that particular discussion could largely be described as aligned with more conservative values, white, and evangelical. But not on the extremes. (I felt I was one of the least likely of the room to align myself with the first and third labels, being a) more of an independent moderate and b) label-averse Millennial!!) We were missing some of the members who bring a greater diversity of ethnic, cultural, and denominational perspective. Preparation materials were also written by authors with an Evangelical perspective. The big win is that we were generationally diverse, while recognizing that the Conversation would only benefit more if a range of political, denominational, and cultural backgrounds could have been there.
2. Many present are involved in pressing social issues, dominantly the global refugee crisis and integrating/serving those who come into our state and city. This helped expose some pretty big tensions in this election that don’t get talked about as much, for those who are both values-based and also active in social justice and social good causes. The lines in the sand that have been drawn are often not as clear as they are made to seem. That’s a blind spot.
How we prepared
We selected some quick reading to prepare beforehand, that represented different generational and political viewpoints. Here they are:
How Evangelicals Are Losing an Entire Generation
Evangelicals like me can’t vote for Trump — or Clinton. Here’s what we can do instead.
After Reaganism: What’s Next for Traditional Conservatives?
Our consensus coming out of the discussion revolved around two criteria:
1. What are common ground and steps forward that can transcend the generations, denominations, and political affiliations present?
2. Could these also apply beyond just our intergenerational group and be helpful to others striving for intergenerational conversation?
Here’s what we came up with:
WHEREAS the 2016 Election is polarizing, divisive, and presenting difficult choices for many at all points along the political spectrum,
WHEREAS the Christian faith community is diverse politically, ethnically, culturally, and denominationally,
WHEREAS this Intergenerational Conversation seeks to bring the generations together amidst this diversity of views and perspectives,
WHEREAS this Intergenerational Conversation seeks to arrive at applications that bridge the generations and can be used outside of just this group,
Those involved concur that the following is a fair consensus of the things agreed upon as a group as initial steps forward, both through the November Election and beyond.
1. We will encourage ourselves and others to be generous in our political, social, and moral views, and strive for being “open” in our positions, to allow for listening and learning together.
2. A focal point of this election is “the other:” pitting ethnic and cultural groups against each other who are different. Especially as it applies to immigration and the refugee crisis, we will strive to encourage more “heart” and compassion; a wise awareness, with a faithful advocacy for the oppressed and the “stranger.”
3. Across the aisle, we feel that there is a social divide growing in our country, and that loving one’s neighbor, both as an idea and a literal practice, is a worthy goal and an even better step towards healing this divide. We will seek to more fully understand what it means to be a good neighbor locally, and what it looks like to do that.
4. Regardless of any of our individual views and political orientation, we agreed that abstention is not a valid option for the participants of this Intergenerational Conversation. That voting in a way most aligned with our conscience is a crucial duty of faith and commitment to our community. And, with that duty, is a further commitment to “standing in the gap” long-term for the results of this Election, despite the challenge of conscience that many feel.
5. With #4 in mind, we also agree to seek to understand the varying viewpoints and perspectives of those who are decided voters, and those who have decided not to vote in this election.
6. We will strive to be thought leaders in our community on this topic – through creating and publishing content that elaborates on the generational perspectives and lessons we have learned.
Do you envision your church being a place where the generations come together like this to tackle issues that matter, create beautiful solutions to our community’s most pressing challenges, and launch people and ideas?
100 Creative Cities is an online learning platform for churches, leaders, and visionary optimists who want to creatively engage Millennials and the generations together to do just that.
It’s launching later this month!
If you’d like to be kept in the loop, let me know here?