For every person who fits the stereotype of their generation, there is another person in the same age group who spurns the broad generalizations and characterizations. For this very reason, a few months back, a new term was coined for the microgeneration that was born in the no man's land that overlaps both Generations X and Y.
The explanation goes that people born during this period of time don't identify with the jaded pessimism of Generation X nor the wide-eyed optimism of millennials. They grew up in an analog era but aged into a digital world and are technologically savvy. Indeed, the only proper thing to do would be to name them after some combination of the two generations; hence, the Xennial was born ... between 1977 and 1983.
And just as the Xennials struggle to relate to one particular group in society, Christians in their mid- to late-30s face the same disconnect in American church culture. It's an interesting and frustrating place to be—caught somewhere in between the evangelicalism of our parents and the "love wins" gospel of our friends born in the last 30 years.
We Xennials see the effects of politics and cultural decay ripping through evangelicalism and find ourselves longing for the good ol' days when absolute truth meant something and holding fast to moral virtue was worth more than being right or winning. And yet, like many millennials, we want to make a difference by showing the world who Jesus really is—loving, just, good, humble, compassionate—not who they perceive him to be because of his sinful followers. But we don't want it to be at the expense of sound doctrine and exegesis.
Rather than apologizing for our beliefs and bashing the church, we want to draw attention to the good and bring back reverence for Scripture and for God, reminding ourselves what it truly means to take up our crosses and follow him in a polarizing culture. At the same time, we want to love our neighbors, make those outside the church feel welcome, and to view our communities as a mission field in need of the good news of the gospel without being judgmental or pointing fingers.
We see ourselves as a beacon of light in the world, standing out as a people who are living differently from those around us—shining examples of being reconciled to our Creator in a depraved world, not those who view culture as the standard to which we must conform in order to win people over. Yet, we desire the enthusiasm and optimism to believe that we can effect change and make an impact on the world around us.
Xennial Christians are in a tough place in the church. The religious landscape is changing in this country, largely due to millennials—not only because they are leaving the church, but because of those who are staying, too. As older generations keep aging, we feel the desperate need to hold on to the vestiges of the faith that was handed down to us while simultaneously acknowledging that things are changing, for better or worse. And the only choice we are left with is to fight to reclaim evangelicalism without redefining our values in the process.
Meredee Berg is Editorial Coordinator for Outreach magazine and has experience writing and editing for magazines, newspapers and the web. When she's not writing for work, she loves to get her thoughts down through blogging.