There has been much written in business and industry concerning this shift (see The Manager’s Pocket Guide to Generation X by Bruce Tulgan and Generations at Work: Managing the Clash of Veterans, Boomers, Xers, and Nexters in Your Workplace by Ron Zemke et al).
However, Webber gives the first and definitive work outlining generations and the church. Webber gives a wealth of information hoping to help those of us who are not “younger evangelicals” grapple with the generational shift in culture today.
His research is based partly on intimate conversations with students and younger church leaders, partly on his intentional research, and partly on his own observations.
Webber’s splendid overview first seeks to describe his label. He defines the “younger evangelicals” in two ways.
First, the younger evangelicals are those who are young in age, the 20-somethings. One major emphasis of this book is projecting where these young leaders will be as they move into major leadership positions.
Second, the younger evangelicals are those who are young in spirit. These are people who have encouraged the younger generations, who lead the younger generations. While these are older in age, Webber claims them as “vital” to the new awakening of evangelical thought and practice.
His formal definition for these younger evangelicals includes “anyone, older or younger, who deals thoughtfully with the shift from twentieth- to twenty-first-century culture. He or she is committed to construct a biblically rooted, historically informed, and culturally aware new evangelical witness in the twenty-first century.”
According to Webber, communication has already changed, theology is changing, apologetics is shifting, and how we do church is in a totally new arena. The pastor as CEO is no longer viable, attitudes toward history draw on the wisdom of the past, and leadership as a team approach is critical. Boomers and Busters beware, Webber says—we are in a new day for the church. By the end of the introduction, you’ll be a believer in this premise.
This book is absolutely essential to all of us who work in the church, who work with church people, and who hope to reach the world around us. The world has changed, the world is changing. This book gives insights on how to cope with the changes and also how to lead in the change. If there is only one book you add to your library this year, add this book. Webber does not disappoint.
“In sum, the younger evangelicals’ presence in the world is clearly a threefold tension,” he writes. “They live in the world and want to be good responsible citizens, yet they are not of the world. They are moving away from the moral relativism of their post-modern world, seeking to offer a sharp alternative to the dominant culture. In personal and family and church life, they hope to be an embodied presence, an alternative culture that acts as salt and light, transforming society toward the kingdom ideal.”
Ready or not, here come the younger evangelicals.
Bo Prosser is the coordinator for congregational life for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship in Atlanta, Ga.
Click here to buy Webber’s book from Amazon.com.