#90swerethebest … why?

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Recently, the hashtag #90swerethebestbecause has run rampant on social media. Yes, nostalgia for anything has become a big deal, and I’m pretty sure there can be plenty of debate for the decade deserving of “best” status.

I was born in 1973. Generally, I don’t remember a whole lot about the 70s. My dad bought a flat-nosed van from a gospel singing group and took out the middle bench seat for us to lay down and sleep on trips to Panama City. No, seat belt laws weren’t around. On the way, he and my mom debated over which 8-track to hear – the Statler Brothers or Grease Soundtrack.

I still consider myself a child of the 80s. I began the decade in the first grade and ended it halfway through my sophomore year of high school. That would be a whole different column.

The 90s, however, were quite the hodgepodge. I was a know-it-all teenager, then a know-it-all college student before becoming a didn’t-realize-how-little-I-knew husband. The decade ended with my wife and I on missions through NAMB in Wyoming, still one of the highlights of our marriage.

And while the 90s are being remembered for the music, TV shows, fashion, and absence of technology – at least by today’s standards – I also remember it as the time I really grew in my relationship with Christ. I got involved in the Baptist Campus Ministries of Jacksonville State University. There, I learned a great deal from new friends and my campus ministers about taking ownership of your walk with Jesus. Just as the lessons I learned in the academic buildings weren’t meant to remain there, neither were the experiences from Bible studies, discipleship groups, and mission trips to be confined to the BCM.

While in college I served a few churches as a youth minister, which gave me a tremendous amount of respect for all those in ministry, but particularly those working with students (Honestly, with the way the culture has changed I don’t see how you guys do it.). And with this #90swerethebestbecause business going on and my time on a ministry staff, it made me wonder some things while remembering others.

Do churches still do all-night lock-ins?

I add that “all-night” caveat because I’ve heard of some that merely end late. My memories from back then: there was always that one scene in the chosen movie you didn’t realize was that bad. Unless, of course, you’d grabbed one from the “Thief in the Night” series.

Game-wise, you prayed nothing got broken – whether teenage bones or a window in the fellowship hall – or anyone choked in a competitive game of Chubby Bunny. And of course, there was the mandated no-couples-sneaking-off speech at the beginning of it all.

T-shirt options

We’ve backed off at least a little on copyright infringements for T-shirts, right? I had at least one Tommy Hellfighter shirt and a sweet Lord’s Gym tank top I was particularly fond of.

Even at the time I remember thinking “Is it okay to do this?” until I was distracted by my friend’s “Abreadcrumb & Fish” shirt.

Coffeehouses became a big deal

 I know, I know. It had already been done with the Jesus Movement in the 70s. But it was new to us in the 90s.

Guys like me decided to take up acoustic guitar and learn to play songs from Caedmon’s Call and Jars of Clay as well as choruses, some you literally could sing forever if you wanted to, all while pretending we liked coffee.

Christian music … wow

I’ll admit, I don’t listen to Contemporary Christian Music like I used to. In the 90s, though, I was a connoisseur. I somehow came across a Christian version of the old Columbia House deal I got in the 80s. The only difference was I didn’t eventually get collection notices for Carman the way I did as a kid for a Ronnie James Dio tape (True story, but I never became a Dio fan.).

During the 90s I became all about Steven Curtis Chapman, DC Talk, the Newsboys, and Petra (who based on their longevity and influence I surmised was kind of the Rolling Stones of Christian music, minus the drugs and a lot of other stuff). For a while, I listened to Guardian’s “Buzz” album on an endless loop; here’s some Lion’s Den for ya. I’m fairly confident there’s still an East to West CD somewhere in my basement.

There seemed to be no shortage of bands and young musicians willing to be booked for your youth ministry’s aforementioned lock-in or Fifth Quarter. Here’s your shout-out, Supernal Rexx – “It means ‘heavenly king,’” the lead singer told me – and my favorite local ska band of all time, The Squeegees (no biblical reference that I know of; they just liked the name).

Best decade

Amid all those memories, I witnessed the gospel lived out by men and women. All were examples that have stayed with me. I’m sure I made mistakes in ministry. I hope I helped others in strengthening their walk.

The 2000s became a different time for me when I became a father. And now, the 10s are starting to wind down. Both held life-changing experiences. Which makes me wonder, when it comes to decades which one is truly the best? The past is great to remember, but it’s done. There is no more potential left in those eras. Doc Brown isn’t showing up in his flying DeLorean.

I’ve decided. The best decade? The current one. Make it so.

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