How age-segmentation strategies in churches are overrated

The obsession with millennials has made its way into the church, often with a disruptive bang, for better or worse. Its counter-movement is inter-generationalism, which resists targeting ages to forge a richer and more universal coming together of the different “generations”, acknowledging the failure of youth segregation through youth ministry which started as a trendy novelty in the 1980’s. Either way, it views the church in terms of demographic differentiation, which are, in my mind, categories useful to assist marketeers in their market segmentation more than it is for building Christ-formed communities.

(Of course, churches nowadays are filled with various marketing tools to build Christ-communities. Ironic, as it then renders the church incapable of challenging and subverting the very trends of neo-liberalism and its offspring, consumerism, that is attacking the church today. But that is just my opinion.)

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Importance of community in our modern times

The first rule of life in modernity does seem to be ‘everyone for themselves’. When a choice has to be made between these values, modernity most commonly sacrifices the old ties of kinship and social cohesion (family, ethnic group, village, social group, even nation) to the advancement of the individual’s private life.

Christian Comeliau*, 2000 (The Impasse of Modernity; Zed Books)

It is one thing to discuss development and progress, and another thing to wonder why we need it. Development and modernisation is so embedded into our psyche that we run headlong in its currents, like a car-race computer game, dodging obstacles and collecting coins and level-ups while going full speed forward, without looking at the whole picture as itself, playing it over and over again to master it to the end. It’s just the way things are, so learn up the rules and play the game – the one with most spoils wins at the Hall of Fame.

Such are games and such is life in the modern world.

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After Pence and Princeton

I saw that the main question was: what constitutes right relationship between men and women?

The brouhaha over America’s Vice-President Mike Pence’s dinner rule three weeks ago has given opportunity for us to hear and consider two views of gender relations. One view is, through restricted and limited relations with the opposite sex, there will be less suggestion (temptation) and likelihood for infidelity and sexual harassment. The second view is, through restricted and limited relations with the opposite sex, there will be reduced and unequal opportunity for women to obtain mentoring and professional development.

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Review: On Liberty by John Stuart Mill

But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race… If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, a clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.

Chapter 2 – Of the liberty of thought and discussion

On Liberty by John Stuart Mill is a classic that is useful to be relearned for our modern age, although it was a product of its own time. This five-chapter document presents an invigorating and dynamic discussion on the importance of liberty of opinion and action, particularly in the backdrop of the felt legacies of Calvin and Knox in the post-Reformation period. Written in early [Correction: middle] 19th century England, Mill produces a passionate and heartfelt review of English civilisation about [Correction: over] 300 years after the Reformation, points out dangers and possible ways forward. I’m peppering this article with quotes from the article for a taste of what he had to say.

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B40: Brain food, tuition and face-to-face relationships (not BR1M or donations)

(Jayanath Appudurai) recommends that energy-dense and nutrient-rich food — brain food — be provided for children in low-income families. Provide all the support necessary for the first thousand days of a child, and the child has a strong physical starting point to commence education.

I wasn’t old enough to be attentive to the pop scene when UB40 reigned in the charts (actually pop wasn’t even the first genre I delved into – it was classics and oldies first before alternative rock took over my world at 12). So I wouldn’t have thought the B40 group was somehow related to pop reggae group UB40.

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The work of God on earth

Gleanings from Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright (Part 3)

…the situation in the world demands that God fixes it Himself.

To be honest, Tom Wright doesn’t tell anything particularly new in his book that I haven’t heard of. For example, my belief system includes the resurrection (check), the new heavens and the new earth (check), the mission of the church in the world (check), the reinstating of humanity-under-Christ as the rightful stewards of the earth under God the creator (check). But what he does is to reaffirm that these represent the fundamental backdrop from where the biblical narrative springs forth.

He arranges the facts of the biblical narrative to a coherent worldview that both transcends and encompasses our individual / private experience of God to a larger framework of creation. This is paramount to Tom Wright’s work, and again, this is not new. What I am seeing is this — we cannot extract our personal faith in Christ and moral piety from the broader existential question of our role as stewards of the earth. In my own reading of this and my own arising position, piety is holiness, but holiness is not piety per se because piety is only a subset of holiness; and morality is stewardship but stewardship is not morality per se because morality is only a subset of stewardship. And I would add that not only are individuals co-partners of God, the whole of humanity was meant to be co-partners of God.

We move on to the next part of my reflections from Surprised by Hope.

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