On Tribes and Community: Part 6, Our Kids Are Liberals

The other reason I've been thinking about tribes has to do with raising our children in the church.

Last week I wrote about our small group discussing our being raised in smaller, more conservative Christian churches. Theologically, we moved away from those faith communities, but relationally we look back with great fondness on our childhoods. Again, for a lot of post-evangelicals, it was the best of times and it was the worst of times.

And really, for all of our small group it was just the best of times. We've changed our minds, theologically, but we have uniformly warm memories of our childhoods in the Churches of Christ. To be sure, a lot of people have been burned badly in our faith tradition, but those aren't our stories.

Anyway, we were talking about how our kids now view the church. We've become liberal in our views and so we've raised our kids as liberals. We've preached messages of tolerance and inclusion. And we've been successful. Our kids don't look on the world with judgment and suspicion. They welcome difference.

But we've noticed that this comes with a price. Our kids don't have the same loyalty to the church as we do. We were raised conservatively, so going and being loyal to a local church is hardwired into us. We can't imagine not going to church. It's who we are. But our kids weren't raised by conservatives, they were raised by us, post-evangelical liberals. Consequently, our kids don't have that same loyalty toward the church.

So we were talking about this paradox in our small group, how our kids weren't raised by our parents, they were raised by us, and how that's made our kids unlike us. Especially when it comes to how we feel about church.

Basically, our kids aren't post-evangelicals. They are liberals.

And to be clear, since we're liberals, we think this has been a wonderful accomplishment. We're proud of the generosity and kindness of our children as they move through a pluralistic world. So we're not lamenting that they are liberals. Our kids care passionately about racism, sexism, and oppression.

But we are starting to lament how our kids are being sent out into the world without a tribe, without the deep sense of belonging we experienced as children. Our kids are beautiful people, but we worry they are sacrificing life-giving, face-to-face community in the tribe for likes on Instragram and Snapchat. Millenials are tolerant, but they are also anxious and adrift. And there's more to Christianity than tolerance. More on that in the next post.

All that to say, we've seen the trade-offs between liberalism and the tribe that I've been discussing in these posts playing out in the lives our children as well.

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