There’s a common slang phrase nowadays: “You do you.”
The phrase means, “Be yourself,” or “Do what makes you happy.” In a way, it’s all about freedom of expression, encouraging the hearer to feel free to follow their own path. Just this morning, I heard it used in a conversation between two people. When one person said how much they liked a certain song on the radio, the other responded with dislike of the song, but added, “But hey, you do you, man!” meaning, “It’s not my taste, but you enjoy it if you like it!”
This little phrase gives permission for each person to explore their own interests and passions, with no regard for what others might think. It’s an expression of unapologetic individualism. In a way, I think it almost sums up the attitude of a whole generation. The generation of youth and young adults coming up in today’s world are, as a group, much more tolerant of one another and their differing worldviews. The notion that everyone has to think, behave or believe the same way is becoming a thing of the past. The next generation is much more open and accepting of today’s pluralistic society. It can be said that this Millennial generation is much less into “group-think” and much more prone to individualism.
The notion that everyone has to think, behave or believe the same way is becoming a thing of the past.
The members of the Mt. Horeb Church Council, and leaders all across the Synod, are currently reading the book Shift: Three Big Moves for the 21st Century Church, by local church leadership specialist and author, Mark Tidsworth. In the book, Tidsworth describes the major “shifts” in our postmodern society and how they are affecting the way we live as the Body of Christ, the Church. One of the themes he highlights is this current-day tendency toward individualism. In contrast to former generations, Tidsworth argues, the Millennial generation is not as interested in “belonging” or “membership,” but much more focused on personal meaning-making. If a church does not “meet the needs” of an individual, they are much more likely to go look elsewhere, instead of staying connected to the community.
One of the challenges we face as church today is maintaining the balance between recognizing the realities of today’s culture and remaining true to our own values. This increasingly prevalent “you do you” attitude of our postmodern culture can be seen as both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it keeps the church accountable to its message and its actions, but on the other, it may hinder individuals from experiencing the value of authentic community. The fact that today’s churchgoers are more open to “shop around” for the right church challenges us as a congregation to regularly evaluate our relevance and relatability, but in response, we must challenge churchgoers to move past a consumer-driven attitude and become truly rooted in a faith community.
While we all travel our own individual journeys of faith, we don’t journey alone. Our faith is a communal faith, and we were created and baptized to live in community with one another. Living in community doesn’t mean ignoring problems or shortcomings, but it means committing to work through them, together, so that deeper trust and openness can be achieved. While the next generation tends to be more open, we must remember that true openness isn’t achieved by dismissing our differences, but by engaging them, addressing them, and moving forward in faith together.
As the world continues to change around us, may we as a church continue to maintain a healthy balance of openness and rootedness in this community of faith, journeying together in unity as the one Body of Christ, the Church.
” As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one” ~ John 17:21
+ Pastor Ginger +