‘Ok, Boomer’. These two words are the latest sociological fad sweeping many youth ministries not only here in the US… but also in Australia and across the world.
These two words are aimed at patronizingly dismissing the Baby Boomer generation through conversational exchange, particularly when younger generations such as Gen X, Gen Y (millennials) and Gen Z feel misunderstood by the Baby Boomers. Further, the condescension is reinforced as the younger generations place a significant amount of blame on the Baby Boomers for all of society’s economic and environmental problems.
I’ve heard many young people say things such as ‘Baby Boomers ruined the housing market’ as well as ‘old people didn’t care about the future generations, and that’s why we can’t afford to buy a house’. A lot of younger generations also complain the environmental issues on the Baby Boomer generation.
Here’s the thing; I don’t want adjudicate which side of the debate has more validity. As a millennial myself, I’m choosing to take this from a completely different angle. I’m not choosing to sit on the fence; I’m merely wanting to raise my concerns around the noxious nature of the whole ‘Ok, Boomer’ mentality, particularly as it’s becoming quite prevalent in Church circles.
Those who know me are very well aware that I am extremely passionate about intergenerational ministry. The power that comes from generations sowing into each other is significant. Churches that are intentionally breaking down generational silos are ones that are growing both numerically and influentially. Intergenerational ministry isn’t something that a Church does; it’s something that a Church becomes. It’s about being strategically poised the allow the life experience of the older generations and the energy of the younger generations to come together to form beautiful, organic relationships that gain incredible impetus towards Church unity.
I have noticed that Churches that maintain the generational barriers are ones that are losing impact both internally and externally. Their message, reach and mission are being heavily compromised by not allowing natural generational diversity to form a reciprocal partnership that is focused on discipleship and outreach.
So why do I have a problem with the phrase ‘Ok, Boomer’?’ Put simply, it doesn’t just reinforce generational walls, it actually piles more bricks on top. The higher the wall gets, the harder it is to look out and see what God is doing. And as the wall gets higher, the Church folds into a sense of ineffectiveness, insulation and irrelevance.
Look, I’m all for banter and using the latest cultural phrases to build relationships and reinforce a level of trust. However, I stop short when this is at the detriment of the Church’s mission; its mission of unity and intergenerational discipleship.
As Church leaders, it is our responsibility to set a culture the empowers, encourages and models what healthy generational looks like. Whether we are aware or not, the fact is that we are either building and/or reinforcing isolating generational walls or we are breaking them down.
I choose to unapologetically draw the proverbial line when it comes to tearing down other generations in the name of blame and I wholeheartedly believe that you should too.