While driving last week I was listening to some pundits analyzing the results of a recent election in the province of Quebec. During the campaign, the question of another referendum for the separation of Quebec from Canada became an issue, and the separatist party suffered a major defeat. One analyst suggested that the party, the media covering the campaign, and others had failed to notice that times have changed. A new generation of Quebecers has grown up fluent in French and English and comfortable with other cultures. For them sovereignty is not the burning issue it had been for a previous generation.
It is not my intention to comment on Quebec politics, but that observation got me wondering whether something similar could be said about our ongoing attempts to refine the bi-national structure of the Christian Reformed Church in North America. Letters in the most recent issue of the Banner show that people have strong feelings about this and that many are cynical about any proposals, however I wonder whether these feelings are shared across generations. I wonder whether younger members even notice the debate.
I have not asked anyone that question, but a young man recently told me that the name “Christian Reformed” doesn’t mean much to him. He doesn’t really care what is on the sign. He is more interested in what a church says and does. Other young people I know seem very hesitant to settle in to or commit to any one congregation, though they are committed to following Jesus. The couple in an article I recently profiled (see “Papers”) spoke of churches that warmly welcome people without requiring them to sign anything or prove their theological mettle. These may be anomalies, but they seem to indicate a shift towards the local congregations no matter their national or denominational identity.
I know that structures have consequences and personally I am encouraged by the direction being charted for Canadian Ministries. We ought to make the most of this opportunity. At the same time I can’t help but wonder whether a generation taught to think locally will be paying attention.