Three generations of prominent church leader Robert H. Schuller kicked off a new conference Monday, looking at the future of faith.
The Faith Forward conference at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, Calif., and at satellite sites across the country is particularly focused on the challenges meeting the Christian faith and bridging the younger generation to the older.
"One of the attempts of Faith Forward is to build bridges between three very different kinds of Christian traditions," Robert V. "Bobby" Schuller, told the Orange County Register.
"There has been a misnomer that the younger generation is looking for what is hip and trendy and all of this stuff when it comes to spirituality."
The cohort of young adults today have grown up on cell phones, the internet and in a materialistic world where their top goals are fame and fortune, a recent Pew survey found. And more youth ministers are trying to draw more teens to the church with a message wrapped in pop culture.
Schuller says young people are looking for something "beyond the show." Vintage is the newest trend.
"They are looking for a deep and real intimate relationship and what I found is that people desire something more vintage, not something in style. Vintage is something that is older but really valuable."
In fact, they're looking for something that is even older than the older generation, Schuller says, such as going to old cathedrals for lay worshipping.
Amid the search for something vintage, there is also a wide gap between the younger and older generations. Youth leader Chris Folmsbee had noted a widening "chasm" between youth ministers who want to do ministry in a new way and older leader who want to stick to traditional ways in his new book A New Kind of Youth Ministry.
"There is a lot of butting heads about which one is right, especially in O.C. (Orange County), where there is a greater emphasis on youth," Schuller says. "A lot of older generations have been offended. The younger generation feels bound by older generations. We try to resolve in all of this and create a forum in which three generations can have a meaningful experience."
The Faith Forward conference comes after 35 years of institute for successful leadership with the older Schuller ended in 2005. Demand for the leadership event soon led Schuller to create the "Robert Harold Schuller Forum for Possibility Thinking Leadership." This is the first ever forum under the new title.
This year's speakers include three generations of the Schullers, songwriter Tommy Walker, Pastor Brian Houston, Bishop Kenneth Ulmer, Pastor Chris Seay and Dr. Todd Hunter among others. Faith Forward continues through Wednesday.