7 Sins of Baby Boomer Believers

I’m a baby boomer, born in 1961. As the oldest of my generation has moved into retirement and the rest of us begin to think in that direction, we’re all aware of some of the failures of our generation. I know I can’t paint the entire generation with one brush, but I confess here some of our sins – and pray that we’ll spend the rest of our lives correcting them.

  1. We’ve taken our blessings for granted. As a generation, we’ve been deeply blessed, beginning with the post-World War II boom that marked America. We’ve given ourselves too much credit for what we’ve gained, though, having forgotten that God alone gives blessings.
  2. We abdicated our responsibility to do social ministry. Evangelicals in particular left this work to others. We feared losing our focus on evangelism (which hasn’t been that strong, either), and we consequently failed to do much that Jesus commanded us to do (Matt 25:31-46). Today’s young generation is filling the void we left.
  3. We failed to invest in the next generation. Just now are we beginning to hear the cry of young people who’ve been asking for guidance and mentors for years. We’re behind in this critical task of Christian growth.
  4. We’ve allowed our Christianity to become cultural Christianity. Somehow, we’ve taken New Testament Christianity and reduced it to, “We need to attend church because it’s the right thing to do.” Too often, life transformation isn’t the goal; social acceptance is.
  5. We have never fully dealt with our prejudices. I was a child during the tumultuous days of the Civil Rights Movement, and I was a teenager and young adult during the Cold War. So ingrained were our political feelings that some of us have, frankly, held on to our prejudices rather than let the gospel change them.
  6. We allowed marriage to become something less than what God intended. I will never forget the first time I learned about a family member getting a divorce. I was shocked, thinking such things never happened. Now, the “norm” is something much different than a man and a woman committing themselves to one another under God as long as they live. Much of that change has come on our watch.
  7. We’ve failed to model evangelism for others. We grew up in the days of Billy Graham and televangelism, and we left the evangelistic task in the hands of those doing mass evangelism. We’ve taken the word “personal” out of personal evangelism. 

Give me your thoughts – have I missed it here? Are there other sins we need to correct?

23 Comments

  • Bob says:

    I’d add that we’ve become complacent in our salvation. That “I’m saved, so that all that’s required of me as a Christian” mentality has caused us to ignore the urgency of spreading the Good News within our circles of influence, including our families. And we now see the tragic results of this selfish mindset in every facet of life in our nation. Shame on us Boomers!

    • Chuck Lawless says:

      Good point, Bob. Thanks!

    • Mike says:

      Hindsight is 20:20 and the truth as we see it now but also remember, if we truely take our sins to Jesus and really give them to Him, then He will erase them by knowing Him and only Him. The more you know Him then the past melts away. We can say this to others but the flesh must see and feel something to believe. It's somewhat ironic but really bad things that happen to us are many times the greatest blessings but sadly seldom seen or understood. Since each of us has a different purpose and path what we need to do is show others our example of going to Jesus and receiving that free forgiveness He is always offering us. Prasie God and Thank You Jesus.

  • Steven says:

    This was really refreshing to read. As a millennial, I’m used to boomers blaming everything on my generation. Thank you for identifying some of the shortcomings of the boomers and uplifting and encouraging millennials in the process.

  • I won’t generalize and say all baby boomers; I will only say this about myself as a baby boomer and as a christian that should know better: I have left the preaching to those with well known names and/or the pastors and ‘shared’ their thoughts (words) on social media, rather than speak out myself/in my own name. As much as I may agree/disagree with political messages (again, on social media), I have kept quiet because I have family in the political arena. I often pray that someone (unbeliever) will ask me questions about what I ‘shared’ and I often pray for my Facebook friends, but I know that I’m not sure I could give a good and clear answer as to what a christian is or why I ‘shared’ this….and I’ve been a Christian for 35 years!!
    Thank you for your many eye opening and thought provoking articles.

  • Ernest says:

    Thank you for this frank and pointed assessment. As a fellow boomer, born 1952, I agree with, but grieve over point #3.

  • Rick says:

    Not a point to add to your list (which is right in every regard), but we are the last generation to have experienced a nation-wide revival in the Jesus movement. Not much remains of it other than its spawn, CCM.

  • John says:

    In regards to point #2…
    That Christians have walked away from social ministry, I would say this one may be a bit off-base.
    Christians have demonstrated compassion across the world more than any other religion or people group. They give generously and serve those in need both financially and in effort. Consider the growth of missions including short-term compassion projects. As for the reference to Matt. 25:34-46, this passage is actually directed primarily towards believers helping other believers. “One of these brothers of mine” is referring to disciples; followers of Christ. “Those on his right”.

    If anything, I would say that Christianity as a whole has perhaps drifted more from actual evangelism outreach and missionary work to share the Gospel. There is more emphasis today on short-term service projects (paint a porch, pass out water, plant a garden, etc.) than there is with actual evangelism. This applies to both local efforts in the community and in third world countries.

    • Chuck Lawless says:

      Thanks for your input, John. I agree that we’ve drifted from evangelism, and I also agree that believers have ministered to others both in the church and out of the church — I’m just not convinced that the baby boomer generation has always led the way.  

  • Steve says:

    Last ones to experience a real revival and first ones to leave our parents’ church. And keep leaving churches …

  • Nathan T says:

    “Failed to invest?” Definitely. I was never truly discipled in my home church. The first discipleship experience I had was as a college student, led by other college students. Churches overall need to do more to see that disciples are made and grown, not simply baptized. Thanks for your words as always. I appreciate your love for the church!

  • Lindsey says:

    #3 hit home for this millennial. I was a member of a church in grad school that, at least for a few years, really worked on connecting twentysomethings with older, wiser mentors who could meet with them one-on-one weekly. She helped me budget, think through institutional changes going on in our church, and helped give me valuable feedback and encouragement. And she rebuked me when I needed it in a firm, but loving and caring way that was so refreshing and helpful. My family was two states away, so when I would have to stay in town for holidays to work she would invite me to join her family. I never knew discipleship could be so personal or, for lack of a better word, productive. We covered so much (and I changed in many ways) in the year we met. She didn’t waste a second with me, and I’ll never forget that.

  • J Y says:

    I’m afraid I see it as spot on. I’m retired on disability and I have been judged by other Christians, left to fend for myself by other Christians. I have been told many times that I “should” have paid my house off by now, “should” be able to invest more. Someone in my old Bible study remarked during class (while discussing insurance), “You always have an extra $10,000…” I asked for help to ready my house for sale (so I could move somewhere smaller with no stairs) from my church for two years before someone showed up for an average of an hour a week. And I didn’t ask for money. I asked for someone to help with the physical stuff I can’t do. Why are non-Christians more understanding, more responsive? This isn’t the church I was brought up in. (And you didn’t mention worship. I dropped out of choir after almost 20 years. First they took away the chairs. And it’s so loud my ENT told me I have hearing loss. I want to tell them it’s not supposed to be a concert. But I admit I gave up.)

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