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Saturday, December 26, 2015

"Generational IQ" (Haydn Shaw)

TITLE: Generational IQ: Christianity Isn't Dying, Millennials Aren't the Problem, and the Future is Bright
AUTHOR: Haydn Shaw
PUBLISHER: Carol Streams, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2015, (304 pages).

The predictions are gloomy. Will Christianity be dead three generations from now? Will our young become more secular? Will traditional marriage be a thing of the past? Why are the young avoiding coming to Church? How do we pass down our faith if there is no one to pass to? What exactly is wrong with regard to each generation? These questions are more continue to cause much concern among leaders, parents, and adults about the faith. Not only that, the mass media are contributing a lot of pessimism. There are many books, news articles, and doomsday predictions of the lost generation. Older generations reminisce on the good old days while others look forward to a better tomorrow. With regards to hope, there is a dire sense of pessimism about the future of Church. Older Church members are concerned about the decreasing level of interest in the Christian faith by their young. Still, many people complain about the rising cost of living, the growing unemployment, the lack of good jobs, and the general sense of helplessness with regard to the rising materialism, individualism, and secularism happening all over the world. Yet, when we ask the younger generations of today, we realize that the difference in perceptions are not only stark but grossly overstated. In this book, author Haydn Shaw, a consultant for FranklinCovey organization and an expert in inter-generational communications seek to help readers understand the contexts across generations.  At the heart of the problem is the lack of understanding between the different generations. Shaw calls this "Generational IQ," a term that is used to describe the intelligence necessary to connect the different generations. Without this IQ, there will be continued misunderstandings leading to tensions. Facts are not enough. We need the intelligence to understand and apply these findings. We need to understand how history impacts individual generations uniquely. The context in which one generation grows up in will colour the way that they interpret the world. The two tasks before us are: 1) Understand our own generations; 2) Try our best to understand others.

Part One focuses on the four individual generations like the Traditionalists (those born before 1945), the Baby Boomers (those born between 1946-1964), Generation X (those born between 1965-1980), and the Millennials (those born between 1981-2001). The Traditionalists are shaped by the Great Depression, the World War II, Mass Marketing, and a high regard for experts. The Baby Boomers experience a time of affluence, fascinated by TV, and a tilt toward individualism. Gen Xers experience high divorce rates, unable to afford high housing prices, more sensitive to family needs, often cynical but also realistic about life. Millennials receive the benefit of heavier parental involvement, and were raised as consumers. They are also technology natives with a high desire for authenticity in their relationships. While many of these observations are general observations, they are only an introduction to the unique differences, strengths and weaknesses of each generation. Each of them have rather different views of religion and faith matters.

From Part Two onward, Shaw deals with practical matters pertaining to various relationships. Beginning with FRIENDS, he tackles the topic of how we can respond to people who say "I'm not religious, I'm spiritual" statement. He warns against the "Be Good, Feel Good, Live Your Life (God is Watching" philosophy which is a major danger to real faith. Words such as "sin," "faith," "grace," "holiness," all carry different meanings by different generations. Shaw suggests steps like, listening more and asking questions more.

Part Three talks about the all important topic of FAMILY. The three key questions dealt with here are:
  1. When will our children in their 20s start living in their own homes?
  2. How do we reach our young's increasingly distant faith relationship with God?
  3. What about the young putting off marriage and engaging in pre-marital sex?
Part Four talks about Church and addresses the following:
  1. Will Christianity disappear after three more generations?
  2. Why are young people not coming to our Church?
  3. What are we to do with a Church that seems to be increasingly distant from us?
Part Five is a bold call to all generations to recognize that all of them need one another. This leads us to the "ultimate generational intelligence" that calls for patience, ability to listen, humility, and most importantly love.

Often, people listen to others in order to reply to them rather than to simply listen. Each generation need to learn how to listen not only to their own peers but also to be respectful of others. Working through 1 Corinthians 13, Shaw calls for us to put on the chapter of love to share and to care for one another. Inter-generational communications need not be that difficult, especially when love is the driving force for all. This book certainly ranks among the most important books to help us clarify our understanding of different generations. The problem with many miscommunications and misunderstandings is because people assume other generations understand them. The prayer of St Francis is particularly helpful.
Make me a channel of your peace, Where there is hatred, let me bring Your love, Where there is injury, Your pardon Lord, And where there's doubt, true faith in You Make me a channel of your peace, Where there's despair in life let me bring hope, Where there is darkness - only light, And where there's sadness, ever joy Oh Master, grant that I may never seek, So much to be consoled as to console, To be understood, as to understand, To be loved, as to love with all my soul
Let Haydn Shaw guide you in this book not only in inter-generational understanding but also intra-generational understanding. Do not be surprised that much family disputes can be resolved by merely learning to understand where that particular generation comes from. Even better, when both generations seek to understand each other's perspectives, you have a wonderful dance of understanding and seeking to understand. This book may very well be far more effective than the marriage advice books or parent-child relationship enhancement books out there. It's a simple idea but carries lots of wisdom.

Rating: 4.75 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Tyndale House Publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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