Chapter 2, ‘Ministry for a Rootless Generation” pp. 26-46
Nouwen asks two questions in this chapter. “First, how do the men and women of tomorrow look today? And second, how can we lead them to where they can redeem their people?” (p. 26). Nouwen characterizes this generation of young people in three important ways. he sees them as being “the inward generation, the generation without fathers, and the convulsive generation” (p. 27).
As an inward generation he sees our youth as giving priority to personal matters, often being withdrawn. Rather than looking to outside authority our young people tend to be militantly individual. Nouwen suggests that a ministry which is sensitive can transform the inward focus from one of selfishness to one of a focus on “the reality of the unseen” (p. 29).
As a generation without fathers young people are suspicious of any claims to authority. Having seen the adult world fail young people wish to avoid taking any examples. Unfortunately this can lead to a dependence on peer examples which lack experience.
As a convulsive generation young people who see few real opportunities in their lives attempt to do something to create change. There is hope for real change but the vision is fragmented.
“When we look for the implications of our prognosis for the Christian ministry of the future, it appears as though three roles ask for special attention: (1) the leader as an articulator of inner events; (2) the leader as man of compassion; (3) the leader as contemplative critic” (p. 36).
- The minister as the articulator of inner events
The contemplative and other inwardly-focused people often find they need a guide, someone or something outside of themselves upon whom to depend. This personal mentoring is not a work many ministers are accustomed to. The minister needs to find ways of articulating the inner life for others.
Nouwen compares compassion with authority, finding that compassion can “become the core and even the nature of authority” (p. 40). We take the compassion of God to our world. This is coupled with professionalism. It sets the Christian minister apart from other professionals.
- The minister as contemplative man
As Nouwen considers it, the contemplative person is able to interact with a fast-paced world and keep up with it. yet he is thoughtful about the interactions. This is revolutionary in its own right as it cuts to the heart of difficult issues.