I am a 20-year-old American Christian. “Generation Z.”

A while back, I wrote an article sharing why millennials – and my generation, I suppose – are leaving the Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) movement. I spoke about some concerns that I had looking back toward the previous generation, and I felt it was only fair to give equal scrutiny toward my own.

Here are three common tenets I see among believers in my generation that raise much concern. 

I. A Hastiness Toward Wholesale Abandonment of Tradition

Now, look, I do not equate traditional with spiritual. One can faithfully serve God biblically without the traditions of men. However, I do concur with the advice of Robert Frost, who wisely said, “Don’t ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up.”

For those who do not know, my background is that of the Independent Baptist movement. It does – as all movements or religions do to some extent – have some serious issues within itself. These issues have pushed some of my generation to move outside of IFB circles. I believe many have left genuinely well-intentioned, simply seeking for a Biblical environment.

Unfortunately, in an effort to shake off the empty or even pharisaical trappings of cold religion, the younger generation has sometimes gone too far with too little thought.

Very few whom I know have asked the hard questions, “Why did they do it like this?” “Why was the church set up this way?” “Why was this a part of their belief system?”

Instead, anything that bears a resemblance to what-was is stripped away carelessly, in an effort to distance ourselves from the monsters of legalism and dead orthodoxy.

I’m not arguing for or against any particular church methodology in this article, I am arguing for an intentional and necessary moment of thought before deciding that something does or does not belong in the life of the church. In short, you need to know “why the fence was put up.”

I’d encourage my peers to read authors from church history, to study the reasonings of the church fathers, and to discuss various topics with the generation before ours.

You may come to realize the reason the “fence” was put up is wrong, and if so, take it down. But you may just come to realize that it was built with much wisdom and thought.

II. Zeal ≥ Knowledge

This may be too similar to my last point, but it’s true.

My generation can’t be completely faulted for this, of course. A lack of knowledge is the curse of all youth. We are young, therefore we lack life-experience, knowledge and wisdom.

Unfortunately, we often rely on zeal and passion to fill that void.

We get amped up by short sound bites, inspirational quotes, and brief conferences. We are fueled by the quick bursts of dopamine that flood our brain when we hear an exciting tidbit of trivia, but we rarely dig deeper. Al Mohler bemoaned the state of learning in modern society, stating,

“We have trained a generation to be so dependent on auditory and visual stimulation, and upon ‘fast scene changes,’ – as Neil Postman wrote twenty years ago this year – we’ve developed so many distractions that people cannot listen to any conversation more than three to six minutes long without expecting a commercial break.” (source)

Few are willing to spend the time and labor necessary to dig deeply into the world of self-education. There is a desperate need for young people to ground themselves in doctrinal truth, particularly through the medium of books.

Secular studies tell us that on average, 33% of students will never read a book after high school, and 42% will never read a book after college. In the Christian realm, this is terrifying. We are commanded to “always be ready to give a defense,” yet we apparently do so little to get prepared for battle.

Passion is important, but passion without knowledge is like driving a sports car on fumes. You may look cooler than everyone else, you may move faster than everyone else, but you won’t go as far as you could have on a full tank.

III. Fear of Being Labeled

This is in the same category as tradition. You can be a spiritual Christian without a label. You don’t have to be a Baptist or a Presbyterian to please God, and reliance on such a title to do so definitely won’t get you anywhere. You can attend a non-denominational church and have a fantastic relationship with Jesus Christ

In today’s culture, however, there is such a push for uniformity that we are afraid to be labelled as anything but a Christian. We run from any and all outlines or doctrinal systems for fear that we will be labelled as a “Type A” or “Type B” Christian.

The attempt to preserve unity has resulted in minimalistic doctrinal statements and shallow phraseology. Unfortunately, this misses the point of unity in the first place. Unity is found in our common salvation through Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 4:3) That’s a broad category!

For the sake of depth and longevity for our churches, we need a resurgence of strong doctrinal and creedal statements. Be familiar with the doctrines you claim. Know what the Bible says on baptism, the Lord’s supper, church discipline, eschatology, church discipline, etc. Your conclusions will determine the type of church you find yourself in.

You may look different than the majority, but that’s okay. As my previous pastor once said, “The goal is not uniformity, but rather biblical unity.”

Seek God, know His Word, and apply it. Don’t fear the label.

I hope if nothing else, this article provides some honest thoughts and critiques. I pray for anyone reading this to understand my spirit, and that together, we can all grow to be more like Christ as we assist and chasten each other.

Eric Author Image

Eric is a blogger, videographer, designer, and full-time missionary with Rooftop Missions. While in the US, he works to raise support to help fund pastors and orphanages in closed countries. When he is traveling internationally, he provides leadership training for national pastors, as well as documenting the trips through photography and video. To partner with Eric financially, click here.


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