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5 Questions for Chuck Bomar

After serving as pastor of Student Ministries at Cornerstone in Simi Valley, CA, Chuck Bomar planted Colossae Church in Portland, Oregon. He is the founder of CollegeLeader and has created numerous resources for college ministry leaders. Chuck speaks frequently and has a tremendous heart for youth workers, especially those in college-age ministry. Chuck is married to Barbara, and together they have two daughters; Karis and Hope. Oh, and lest we forget, Chuck is a regular blogger. His latest book is Worlds Apart (Zondervan 2011).  

We've heard rumors that you drink more coffee than anyone else in Portland, and that's saying something. Talk about your strategy of frequenting cafes as the pastor of a growing church in Portland.

Well, yes, I definitely have my share of coffee. Besides checking new shops out and seeing their unique way of brewing a cup of coffee, the truth is it's simply a natural way of meeting people. I have zero chance of meeting someone new in a church "office." So, I frequent specific places, get to know the employees and owners and I am constantly building relationships with the regular's at these places. It's fun and proving to be fruitful.

After serving with Francis Chan at Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley as the pastor of student ministries, you moved to Portland to start and pastor Colossae Church, where you continue to minister to 18-25 year-olds in a big way. Why is it so important for pastors and parents alike to understand this life stage?

The bottom line for me is people in this age stage are "people," so they matter. But this generation of 18-25 year olds is like no other generation that preceded them. It's actually become a new age stage that's formed in our culture and in many ways the world. Those that find themselves in it quickly discover they are, for the most part, worlds apart from anyone else that has gone before them. And parents particularly are trying to figure out how to bridge their world with their child's. But as a leader I have a heart for discipleship, and those between the ages of 18-25 desperately need someone to walk alongside them as they navigate these years.  So I wrote this book to help both parents as well as leaders.

In your new book, Worlds Apart, you write about a "shift" that has occurred in the life stage of 18-25 year-olds that is unlike anything we seen before. Talk about this shift and what's different about it.

There has been shifts in both the mindset and values between this generation and the previous ones. That's no surprise, each generation looks at ones that follow and find differences. But today these seem to be a bit more drastic. For example, I have seen a big shift in the view of having a job. Previous generations viewed a job as a career and it was meaningful simply if it provided for their monetary needs and desires. Today, this couldn't be more different. College aged people don't want a career that simply pays for their needs. They do want that, but they also want a vocation, not a career.  The word vocation stems from the idea a calling (Latin word is vocare). The bottom line is people today are looking for "that thing" they are "supposed" to be doing. There is much to this issue, which I describe in the book, but the bottom line is understanding the nuances of these types of distinctions is critical to bringing our world together with theirs. That's what brought me to write this book.

How has the development of higher education impacted the separation between what you call "generational worlds"?

The biggest thing is it has changed how and when people think about independent adulthood. Which again, has caused generational worlds to move apart. The need for higher education has clearly changed the landscape of this age stage. Graduating high school is now the rite of passage to begin thinking about adult life. This is clearly different than any other generation prior and tends to frustrate those in previous generations. Many leaders are frustrated because "these kids never seem to grow up," and parents often give up trying to understand their child. I walk through the development of higher education in the book and I also describe some irreversible affects it's had on this age stage. I begin the book with this because it's a critical piece to understand if we are going to bridge the relational gaps between generations - in homes and in churches.

What are the top issues that college-age people face these days? What influences their decisions? 

Identity is really the issue. Everything from their developing of personal convictions, to their pursuit of a mate or life direction is ultimately an identity formulation issue. I have tried to simplify this in the book so that parents (and leaders) can better understand the world that these 18-25 year olds have grown up in because it drastically affects the way they process the world they live in today. The fact is their world is and has been different than ours. This means they have been molded and shaped by different things. And it's one thing to understand this in our minds, but it's another to keep these in mind as we approach a relationship with them. That's precisely why I wrote the book.

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