As we race into 2012 it is essential that followers of Jesus wake up to the astonishing rate at which our world is changing! We are told that the global recession is over but many of us in the middle class will never go back to the “old normal’ where we had secure incomes and extra to spend. Remember there is a very real possibility that the economic crisis in Europe could trigger a second global recession.
However, even if we dodge that bullet we need to wake up to the reality of what the ”new normal” is likely to look like for many of in the middle class. Growing numbers of older Americans are discovering that they simply will never be able to stop working. This year I ran into some older Mennonites who were able to retire but discovered they could no longer afford the costs of a Mennonite retirement facility they had planned on.
Families with kids are increasingly scrambling to try to find enough money to even help their young make a beginning in any college option. Recently I discovered in some futures research I did for the leadership at InterVarsity that the cost of higher education is going up faster than the income of the middle class. That is why this generation is graduating with the highest school debt in history.
When the young do graduate they are also discovering, in spite of the recession, that many couples have to spend 40% to 50% of two incomes to do the dream…while many of their parent’s generation only spent 40% of one income. As a consequence a growing number of grads are moving back home.
Like it or not many are headed back to The Waltons…inner generational share housing like the working poor have always shared. I believe this could be more positive than many realize.
Nuclear family housing and age segregated retirement were inventions of our post World War II society and a growing love affair with individualism. Given the new reality of ongoing economic volatility and the new challenges that will come from climate change wouldn’t it make sense to explore new inter-generational mutual care community possibilities?
“We have the opportunity to imagine a spectrum of new communities where, as the followers of Jesus, we can create new ways to be a difference and make a difference”…for times like these.
I plan to do a series on new expressions of community as we gallop into 2012. Would you send us examples of new expressions of community you are involved with or resources on community to put us in touch with new possibilities? Here are a few links to help ignite your imagination:
(source: Mustard Seed Associates blog – Thank you Tom!)