EXCELLENCE & The Authenticity Debate: Where do young people who grew up in the church land?

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 12/7/15.

A student stated:

“Perhaps my view on this is still a bit culturally biased. My experience in working with Gen. Y postmoderns involved in worship with me is that they want both (excellence and authenticity). However, I believe that excellence is assumed. For example, none of the ‘secular’ music that they listen to is sub-par in its excellence.  I do see a trend away from highly produced music and that which has a more raw, authentic feel to it. However, despite the less produced genre of music I see emerging, there still is a strong element of arranging and excellence in its (Gen. Y postmodern) musicianship … So I suggest that it isn’t the lack of desire for excellence; it’s just secondary to authenticity,”

I replied:

“I wonder if the younger Gen. Y postmoderns who want more professionalism aren’t young people that grew up in the church? I have found at IWU that the students who prefer excellence in worship, often have adopted the “excellence focus” because they are very loyal to the views of their Boomer parents.  In other words, many times good Christian young people don’t develop some of the cynical nature of secular youth.”

A Leadership Exercise.



Now, I was not of course saying this student was suggesting excellence trumps authenticity (he rightly in my mind said the opposite).  But, I wonder if the young people we often see in our churches (who expect excellence) aren’t more the product of a Christian culture rather than a secular culture which feels authenticity sometimes requires an organic lack of proficiency.

Get together with some of your leaders and discuss what you think about this. Use the following question to stir discussion:

  • Have you seen this happen?
  • Or have you seen the opposite?
  • In other words, do Christian young people sometimes seem to prefer excellence because they are loyal to and influenced by their Christian parents’ emphasis upon excellence?