Over a decade ago, the post-90s generation was labeled "non-mainstream". They were stereotyped as "fashionable, lonely, selfish, and courageous..."As they grow up, they keep pace with the times and also their own characteristics.
You may ask how to shepherd the unique and extrovertive generation who don't go with the tide. What sort of pastors and sermons do they like? What churches do they even favor?
There are many 90s Christians in the churches located in China's first and second tier cities.The Christian Times interviewed five 90s Christians to share their views about sermons and church models.
Brother Liang: I like practical sermons rather than chicken soup.
Brother Liang is a second-generation Christian born after 1990. Liang stated that he preferred down-to-earth and practical sermons. "This kind of sermon shows me what I should do in my real life" he said, "but some pastors' preaching is like brainwashing you or instilling religious chicken soup. Although it may taste sweet when you have it the first time, you will feel bored and poisoned with it after drinking too much."
In addition, he likes pastors who treat him as a friend. Since Jesus brought equality and freedom, the church should stand for them. He added that some churches speak "religious words" both in and outside the church. "It will separate Christians from people and non-Christians regard Christians as 'different' and can't even communicate."
He pointed out that the church should know history, support pastors, and establish a proper worldview, philosophy, and value in the congregation. Meanwhile, it should provide a warm and cozy atmosphere for professionals, housewives, and migrant workers.
Sister Liang: I enjoy diversified preaching but dislike unfocused sermons.
Sister Liang, a 90s former campus leader, said that she liked "spiritual" sermons. "In fact, I like some pastors and preachers' sermons, but I don't appreciate some others. Sometimes it relates to the preaching style, but nonetheless it has something to do with my spiritual condition most of the time." She suggested first examining whether one is ready to receive God's word when grace is not gained through a sermon, rather than wonder if your pastor preached a bad sermon.
She categorized her three favorite sermons:
1. Sermons delivered by humorous pastors. There are many pastors with a sense of humor.Their preaching could make the congregation laugh and then ponder over their jokes.
2. Sermons with depth. Liang explained, "This kind of pastor may be not humorous, but they are good at expounding the Bible. Despite that they may give one-verse sermons on occasion, the comprehensive and penetrating sermons enlighten you and sometimes sting you."
3. Sermons with rich spirituality. She said, "The majority of the preachers I have met are elderly, experienced, God-fearing, and have good relationships with Jesus. Even though they don't talk about their own experiences or deliver deep preaching, the hearers feel touched. It's like St. John in extreme old age just told his congregation nothing except 'love one another' and his congregation who heard it felt couraged."
She added that she was not interested in lengthy sermons or ones without a theme or focus.
Sister Su: I'm fond of logical and coherent sermons and a church with truth and love.
Sister Su, outgoing and outspoken, is a typical post-90s individual. Regarding her favorite types of sermon, she answered that a logical and coherent sermon caught her heart, particularly when the content had connections with believers' real lives. She said that a pastor should preach on a concise and practical theme and his preaching should be understandable yet not empty, not pretending to be spiritual or dimly discernible.
She is a regular member of a church. The main reason she is committed to the church is because she feels good in it. "There are love, truth, and order. "She said, "A church should have a system and teach the congregation what is permissible and what not. Its pastors and workers should be respected by the congregation, but not hoodwink it.Instead, they should delegate power and duties to believers and guide them toward growth and ministry together."
What was more, fellowships and groups matter. A group leader should play the leading role in caring for his members and helping them establish a relationships with mutual help and love.
Brother Qu: I love well-organized and practical sermons and a loving church.
Brother Qu, a post-90s who engages in the service every week, shared that he loved well-organized sermons that analyze facts and offer solutions for believers. He explained that young people bear more pressure with the social development and rising living standards. A church should offer love and help people with burdens; if a believer feels more depressed and heavier after hearing a sermon in the church, the sermon was not successful.
"I love small churches with dozens of members. Members gather with love and build beautiful relationships with each other, offering mutual help in the church and courage in real life. It should be not that one stuck in trouble just hears 'pray for you' from other people and that's all." He said.
Sister Peng: I favor understandable sermons and lively, modern churches.
Born in the fall of 1989, Sister Peng is sometimes considered to be one of the post-90s generation. She said, "A good sermon explains profound things in a simple way, shares the truth of the gospel plainly, and does not sound boring." She mentioned that Jesus' preaching in the Bible was easy to understand. Moreover, the laity, composing the majority of the church, wanted help, soul satisfaction, and comfort in the church. If a pastor connects the sermon to real life, it will enable those listening to combine their faith and life.
On the other hand, Peng said that the church should advance with the times. The church used to be conservative and only allowed acapella worship and praise or piano accompaniment due to the limited facility. However, many churches today have become more open and give more vivid and diversified worship. "So I often go to churches offering modern and vibrant worship in line with the times."
- Translated by Karen Luo