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So glad to hang out with you albeit briefly today. Hope the "Design and the Elastic Mind" exhibit at MOMA rocked for you like it did for me.


Hi Jonny,

We started a fresh expression of church with a Saturday evening mass last Fall. I've also noticed that the young adults who do come are indeed married with kids. I myself am married with two small children. The Saturday worship has evolved into a family focused style. But I am also noticing that single young adults are starting to drop by on a somewhat regular basis. I'm wondering if this sense of community with families and children is actually drawing single people who are looking for community and indeed for some a sense of stability in family life.

Love the Proost site, use your stuff all the time in our worship.

Easter Peace,
Sam Rose
Mission Priest
St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada

Mid Life Crisis Man

Good observations, good points. i'm particularly interested in boomer/x-gen cuspers like myself (those of us in our 40s) and with children largely grown up (or separated from) many are indeed tinkering (like gen x proper), but without the church background or else the feeling that it is - as you say - too heavily "policed" to be useful. And so many are left floundering, frustrated and giving up. This is why i feel alt.worship is so important - it provides the opportunity to receive the tools and skills to continue tinkering freely. And i completely agree with the observation that single gen x/y are not in church while the ones with children are. Is trad church too family focussed? i believe so! My own son is a good example - 22 and single, a strong faith and still attends a weekly off-site small group but rarely worships at the church that meant so much to him as a teenager. his explanation is the lack of relevance he now finds there.

i'm beginning to wonder too if at least part of the relevance thing is excellence? Gen x/y seem to me to be big on excellence (perhaps a result of the "you can do anything you set your mind to" culture). Many churches seem to recognise this but rarely deliver, at least in technical terms in worship (bands, multimedia and so on). It could be that people with children are largely more forgiving of standards than singles, after all, raising kids is a messy busyness...? Certainly i was more tolerant of my church when my kids were little than i am today. A sample size of 1 isn't very scientific, but observation lends creedence to the idea perhaps? Any thoughts??



Jonnya and I talked about the mistakes in seeing emerging church as solely outreach to young adults and I hope he'll blog about this - I noted how here in the States ministry tends to be focused on children, youth, young adult and then an outreach to seniors. The assumption seems to be that those who are 35-65 have found their groove (married, job, kids) when in fact, that's a time when many crises occur both professionally and personally.



thanks for the chat over beer and good food at the center. I'll take your recommendation and check out Peter Rollins' book. Hope you time in NYC was a fun one. I'm looking forward other opportunities for connection and collaborations. Tom and I might be at Greenbelt this summer.


Mary Stewart

I'm totally with you on the extension of young adulthood in our culture and the ways in which these young adults (including me) are trying to piece together meaning, butI'm not sure if I'd agree if "tinkering" is the right word to describe it.

Tinkering suggests that what we have is pretty much ok, and the effort is being put into making it work, or making it work better.

Maybe a better, if less elegant word, would be "bodging" (in the british sense). The attempt is to pull together different resources, in an often inexpert and awkward kind of way because there is no one resource that offers us an adequate way of making meaning.

I think that rather than current resources needing to be tinkered with to make them work for us, the need is to bodge together some way of making meaning, drawing from as many different resources as necessary.

Steve Hollinghurst

glad you enjoyed the gathering, i've found them a great bunch in past years myself.
sounds like useful input too.

i think there may be a difference between UK and US partly here? just aware that those of us who were in on the ealry days of Alt Worship like Jonnyy and I were 'tinkering' then (and i remember starting tinkering with some pretty unsuitable stuff to start with to) and we are cuspers to use the phrase from above. now if i am right then whilst many of my age group now have their own grown up kids, truth is we are still tinkering and looking of for the kind of realtional and worsjip spaces that Wuthnow is indentifying for the young adults of the states.
i remeber something you said Jonny at a Univeristy Cahplains conference severla years back which was something like 'teenagers where invented int eh 1950's and uninvented in the 1990's, or something to that effect...ie generations who never leave youth culture are growing up into adults and middle aged ones at that who will...well still tinker.
BTW i think the issue of gifitng tinkering is essential...and very challenge in an anglican church that thinks you need and agreed worship text most of the time!

paul soupiset

thanks again, jonny. it was good to get to know you, if only for a bit.

next time you're anywhere near texas...

-- paul soupiset


thanks for the comments...

mary i kind of agree about the word in english which is why i prefer bricolage, but the reason i used it was i was invited to give a talk responding to wuthnow's book that people had been asked to read. and tinkereing is the word he settles on.

his definition is fine but to a lot of people it does sound like tweaking rather than something more radical. an image that came to mind for me was from the film waterworld where the world has totally changed (coevered with water). kevin costner dives down to the old world and collects a few items and brings them up to put them to totally different usage in the new world. that sits with the definition fine!


Steve - Until recently the dialogue in the US seems to be dominated by the postevangelical emergent stream - a conversation that I sense is very necessary for those coming from evangelical traditions who are struggling with their own set of issues. As an Episcopalian, I have been attracted for years by what was going on in the UK Anglican stream. The US Episcopal Church appears to have hit that level of crisis similar to what Jonny and others have told me was happening over with the UK Churches in the 1980s. I am grateful for people like Jonny who have the insight and kindness to deal with seeing the churches take the same exploratory steps they took years ago. So yes there is a bit of a time warp here that I know can be frustrating at times but we are seeing some incredible signs of hope. The spirit is at work despite what you read about the US Episcopal Church crises in the papers.

Todd Ruth

great post


I know this is a bit late in the posting, but I had some time to muse on it and I would be curious if anyone had some responses...

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