"I'll just key in these edits while you go to lunch," I said, heading for
computer equipment that costs as much as a compact car.
"No!" shouted Joe and Sean, practically in unison. Then,
smiling like Cheshire cats, these two talented editors began verbal
backpedaling. You needn't bother yourself, Carolyn, was their basic message.
We'll take care of it when we're back in the office. Translation: Don't even
think about touching anything you might mess up.
Their fear that in five minutes I could tear up hours of their work is not
As a baby boomer, I'm not a technogeek (although I'm improving). And it all
has to do with communication.
I remember the Monday (I was well into my 30s) when the boss called his
staff together and told us about the new equipment that had materialized on our
desks-awkward-looking things with television screens, keyboards and cables all
over the place.
He lectured about the money the company had spent and how fragile they were
(soft drinks and coffee were banned) and how the real guts of these complex
assemblies were housed like giant exotic plants in air-conditioned rooms
(entrance required specialized training and status). I was totally intimidated.
These things, called computers, would revolutionize my work but only after I
got up the nerve to touch them.
Years passed. Computers got simpler (more
user-friendly), and I got smarter (more computer-literate). Now I own two PCs
and use a Mac at the office, which is so powerful I feel like I have a jet
airplane on my desk. But magazine publishing pushes the technology envelope,
and On Mission keeps up.
So what does this have to do with evangelism? In On Mission-like at your
church-we talk about meeting people where they are, which implies learning
their frames of reference. And one way is to understand the differences between
generations. Our cover section addresses this fascinating way to describe
people. It's also a fun review of highlights from the past century.
I'm a boomer. So what does it say about my ability to communicate with all
ages to know that I met only one child of divorced parents from kindergarten
through 12th grade... that Dad left for work wearing a hat and returned every
evening at precisely the same time...that Mom vacuumed the house wearing a
dress a la June Cleaver...that we had hula hoops and poodle skirts and viewed
Elvis only from the waist up on Ed Sullivan? Sounds like a pretty innocuous
era, doesn't it? Unless you count the fact that we 1950s schoolchildren
regularly practiced air raid drills, a terrifying routine during which I always
suspected it was a lie that, when the Russians actually did it (dropped their
deadly missiles on us), I would somehow survive under cover of my desk and tiny
arms draped over my head. What trauma! (As an adult I traveled to the then
Soviet Union and looked into the eyes of people I discovered to be much like
me, rather than the monsters I had been taught to fear.)
When you peel back the layers and peer into each generation, you see the
complexities that make up our frames of reference. Mine was a U.S. suburban
childhood among families of mostly European descent. On the surface it appeared
as smooth as Pat Boone's voice. But look closer. As a teen I experienced my
president's assassination, racial unrest as injustices were overturned and a
war that bore no resemblance to the one Dad had fought. My college years were
turbulent with protests, the drug culture and assassinations of more heroes. My
young adult years were full of temptations and confusing mores as abortion was
legalized, traditional roles for women were questioned and leaders denied being
crooks. Things were changing fast, and innocence was becoming a scarce
commodity. One day I thrilled to news of the Beatles' arrival in America; the
next I was grieving the return of a friend from Vietnam-in a body bag.
We are the products of many events and influences. The generation into which
we were born is one defining factor. My comfort level with computers had a
shaky start because of my age when they were introduced and what the person who
communicated to me about them chose to emphasize.
What binds us, of course, is the perfect Life born 2,000 years ago in a
manger and sacrificed on a cross for our redemption. Jesus' timeless truth
transcends everything, and in loving response we must learn to communicate it
Carolyn Curtis, email@example.com
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC