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Andii Bowsher

Looks like a really important piece of research. I think that my initial response to the things I've seen about it so far is like you: both /and. Partly because I think we've still to take seriously Bonhoeffer's point about not meeting people with the gospel in their weakness[es] and partly because I even then wonder whether the sample is inevitably bounded by certain existential limitations... more at http://nouslife.blogspot.com/2006/05/spirituality-of-youth-is-this-wordly.html

Dana Ames

is this the report Steve Taylor wrote about in his quote today, "The Church of England has debunked the widely held view..."? (www.emergentkiwi.org.nz)

Steve has some good thoughts, and also quotes John Drane. Small (blog)world-

Dana Ames

barry taylor

Interesting post Jonny and one that highlights some of the challenges facing the church etc. However, I think that the real 'disconect' in the statements you make from the report (which I haven't read so can't fully critique) is the idea that we should be mining youth culture for a glimpse of future faith decisions/choices/directions etc. I am not in th eleast bit surprised that young people betray no signs of this "eclectic spirituality"--I don't think it is part of their world yet. I personally think that the inclination towards faith comes later in life, particularly for those who have been raised in the materialist west. Most young people are exploring other elements of what it means to be human and the deeper issues of ultimate meaning and faith are hardly a priority. (Its worth remebering that the 'return to faith' of the baby-boomers etc came as a big surprise to a lot of critical thinkers--it was the last thing most expected to see from them.)There is also the issue of just how and in what manner this research was done. Using a model from someone 'inside' the church(Tom Wright) and to some degree, in my experience, not that aware of pop cultural forms and directions, sets up standards and criteria that may or may not be appropriate to the task. A larger issue for me here is that it is not only our understanding of religion that is being challenged but also our understanding of what "spirituality" is and might look like in the future---less and less like anything we know is my inclination. Challenging stuff as I said, and lucky for me I'm not in youth ministry!!!

Phil G

i haven't read the research yet, but as you noted, it may contradict other research carried out. I am sure he can speak for himself, but Phil Rankin produced his research in December about young people and spirituality and it seems to be saying the complete opposite to what Mayo et al are suggesting. I wonder what this could mean? Is it worth a discussion or investigation into why young people are saying different things? Is our society so pluarlistic that thoughts, feelings and opinions change like the wind? I really look forward to reading the research!


What is "emergent church"?

Does it hold Christ as Lord and Saviour?

And does it put salvation only in Him?

I see quite a few blogs on it.

But really have no clue what it is all about.

Just curious if it is Christ centered or if it is a New Age..type thing.



barry i think you make an interesting point - the youth giving a window into the future is a comment of mine rather than something in the book btw - it could be that the spiritual quest/exploration of ultimate meaning comes later?...

as for emerging church randy - have a look at www.emergingchurch.info and follower the beginners guide. it's label that's given to the movement seeking to grow church in the context of the emerging culture. it's not new age unless you mean the new age of the kingdom?

Darren Hill

OK, haven't read the book but, I wonder if it is another case of the older generation pushing its views on the next. Have Generation X with their longing for spirituality expected the next generation to do the same? (Just a thought) Aparently we pray more than in the 1970s though, must be true was on the BBC :-)

Existential Punk

This is interesting and has been my experience in meeting people. But, i find it across the age spectrum and not just Gen Y.

Ali Campbell

I think it is helpful to read Generation Y alongside "Ambiguous Evangelism", published in 2004, written by Bob Mayo - the underlying principle of that book is "it cannot be assumed that people have an adequate framework within which to interpret the gospel message" - the same could be said in the context of the research if you replace "the gospel message" with "Spirituality" - the serious challenge to the Church in the West, unlike in previous missional contexts (i.e. heading off to Africa with the Gospel) is that this generation doesn't have a concept of "the unknown God" - He just isn't there. The God is happiness, and it is interesting to see how much is going on in the media at the moment exploring what makes us happy. Jesus saves, but does He make us happy? And is happiness "spiritual"?

Bob Mayo

Speaking as one of the authors of the Report can I encourage people to read the book for themselves. What we have written in the Generation Y Report is not necessarily disagreeing with other research such as that done by Philip Rankin. What we have done is to refine and define what is meant by spirituality. We draw a distinction between formative' and 'transformative' spirituality. Formative spirituality is the search for meaning value and purpose. Transformative spirituality is a conscious awareness of a transcendant other. In the socially shared world view of the young people we interviewed there was little evidence of transformative spirituality

Phil Rankin

Speaking as the author of 'Buried Spirituality' i have to first admit that I havent read the 'Generation Y' report and I get the impression that quite a few other people havent yet either. Elsewhere I expressed the possibility that Bob/Sylvie/Sara and I were saying very different things (which would concern me!!) but made it very clear that this was only on the basis of the media reports. I obviously must read the report to get the whole picture but to pick up on Bob's comment, I think that the defining of transformative and formative spirituality is an important distinction. Young people, in different ways and at different times depending on a whole range of factors, are asking spiritual questions - is there a God, why I am here, whats my purpose, whats the point in my life - and this sounds very similar to formative spirituality. This is not always explicit and does NOT mean young people are leaving religion and getting into spirituality or could be defined as constantly seeking. Young people have probably always been spiritual, in that they ask spiritual questions, and to a large extent Churches, youth ministry etc have not been meeting their needs in this area but young people arent running off to something new. Perhaps they have left 'religion' and are in fact now involved in nothing, creating difficulties around language and concepts like sin and redemption?
I would absolutely agree with Bob's point about transformative spirituality, especially if this transcendent other is understood in Christian terms. My view is that at various times and in various ways young people do ask 'Is there a transcendent other/God?' But, while the ANSWER to the spiritual questions is important, it is the asking of the questions that is the presentation of the spiritual. Youth work/ministry and the Church has to create spaces WITH young people to connect with the questions and explore their and our current ‘answers’ as well as any other new possibilities that come along. In a sense, churches need to find new "unconditional" ways of engaging with people and their questions, and stop providing answers to questions that no-one is bothered with.
Sorry this is soooo long and I'm really looking forward to reading the Generation Y report. Should also say there is a study done on USA youth religion and spirituality called 'Soul Searching' and it too is an interesting read.

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