I was surprised to read last week that a Gallup poll concluded Americans are pessimistic about the future for young people. It's not clear exactly what led most Americans to believe that young people will not have a better future than their parents. Since 1983 Gallup has asked this question:
Most surprising for me was that older respondents have gloomier expectations about our future.
The percentage "who say it is very or somewhat likely that today's youth will have a better life than their parents" breaks down like this:
- 18-29 = 57%
- 30-44 = 45%
- 50-64 = 36%
- 65+ = 37% [/unordered_list]
Source - USA Today/Gallup, April 20-23, 2011
The poll didn't ask respondents to state their religious affiliation, so it's hard for me to accurately assess how these startling figures affect the work of the church, especially a new church that is interested in the age demographic people are worried about. However, it is encouraging (and from our anecdotal experience, spot on) to note that younger people are more excited about the future than older people.
If we wait for permission from our parents, bosses, superiors, and mentors to join God in the transformation of this world into something that looks like heaven, this moment will pass. We will grow up, get a mortgage, complain about property taxes, have kids, complain about public schools, get sick, complain about health care, retire, complain about social security, participate in a Gallup poll, and complain about the future of our kids.
The alternative is to stop complaining and start living in the present as if the future we're so hopeful about is already here. By the way, Jesus gave us permission to do so when he said over and over, "The Kingdom of God is at hand."