Today in the Mission Yearbook

‘Everyday God-Talk’ guest asks, ‘Can the church catch the visions of young people?’


Joel, an oft-neglected book, speaks to millennials during COVID-19

September 29, 2020

In a recent edition of Everyday God-Talk, So Jung Kim, associate for Theology in the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s Office of Theology & Worship, visited with the Rev. Dr. Jaco Hamman, a PC(USA) ordained pastor who’s a professor at the Vanderbilt Divinity School.

In the first of a three-part video conversation, Hamman talks with Kim about his most recent book, “The Millennial Narrative: Sharing a Good Life with the Next Generation.”

“I wrote it because that’s the generation (ages 16-40) that’s usually absent from our churches,” he said.

The book draws on wisdom from the prophetic book of Joel. Saying it is “a very neglected book of Scripture,” Hamman called Joel “the most important book of our time.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic only reinforces its significance, especially for young people going through this crisis,” Hamman said.

Describing Joel as a six-act play, Hamman said the prophet speaks to and about people experiencing great loss. Life as they knew it had been destroyed. The prophet Joel encourages them to lament and grieve — and to change their identity and discover who they are. It is in this space that people discover a gracious compassionate God, who is, as Joel 2:13 puts it, “slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”

“Then God promises to pour out [God’s] spirit on all people, especially young people, who will see visions,” Hamman said.

In his book, Hamman asks, “Can the church catch the visions of young people?”

Hamman said the younger generation is interested in the good life, which along with financial security includes working for social justice and inclusion and breaking down structural racism.

“Churches have been so focused on the good news that they have missed the good life,” Hamman said.

Instead of asking young people to come to church, Hamman encourages faith communities to join young people in what they’re doing to make a difference the world — and to learn from them.

After viewing part one of Kim’s conversation with Hamman, the Rev. Dr. Barry Ensign-George, coordinator for Theology & Worship, said, “Hamman’s reflections on the book of Joel are fascinating.”

Watch the latest Everyday God-Talk — which includes Hamman’s full description of the six-act play in Joel — on the Office of Theology & Worship’s Facebook page.

Download the Everyday God-Talk videos here.

Part two of Kim’s conversation with Hamman was about the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Matthew 25 invitation. Part three focused on the coronavirus crisis and how “The Millennial Narrative,” the Book of Joel and the Matthew 25 invitation can speak to young adults now and after the pandemic. Those segments were released on May 13 and 20.

Paul Seebeck, Communications Strategist, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Today’s Focus:  Millennials During COVID-19

Let us join in prayer for: 

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Elizabeth Olker, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Let us pray:

God of the universe, we thank you for all that you have created and called good. We thank you for placing us in the midst of your Creation and for blessing us as your own. May we be all that you have called us to be, and may we follow you each and every day with excellence and in faithfulness. Amen.