Connecting the Church of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
Recently, at the invitations of my adult children, I visited two different churches. You could categorize both churches as “mega-churches” with younger constituents. (In contrast, I currently attend a small church with a strong showing of seniors.)
I totally enjoyed the energetic and meaningful worship music of the churches I visited. I liked the relevancy of the message presented in simple language and relevant terminology, yet combined with profound biblical truths. I also appreciated the well-organized, energetic children's ministries for my grandchildren.
Later, reflecting on my experience and pondering my own church, which, as I mentioned, consists predominantly, although not entirely, of folks with some gray in their hair, I noticed a divide.
Leadership in my church tilts heavily towards folks at least 50 years old or older the ministries of my church gear mostly toward that age group. These mega-churches, with few older attendees, seemed to gear ministry mainly to the younger generations.
While I greatly value and appreciate all three churches, I wonder about intergenerational ministry.
Whenever someone asks me about role models or people who believed in me, the first words out of my mouth are, “My Grandmother”. She was a godly and kind woman who demonstrated her faith more than she talked about it.
You likely recall Paul’s instruction to “let the older women teach the younger ones.” So, yes, grandparent relationships matter but even in a more general sense, trans-generational relationships can transmit faith and godly living in ways particularly profound and long-lasting.
So it concerns me that in the church we seemed to have divided groups according to age and interest and lost the natural intergenerational learning and relationships that occurred in the early church.
Of course, it could prove challenging to recognize the value of such relationships, work a connecting the generations in meaningful ways, and minister to people with such differing generational expectations. No doubt, managing those varied expectations and helping others connect demands advanced emotional intelligence and relational skills!
Still, while connecting and worshipping with one’s own generation seems natural and beneficial, young people also need connection, disciplining and mentoring with those of the faith with wisdom and maturity.
There do exist organizations creating movement towards intentional intergenerational ministry.[i]
I see clear benefits to such ministry but mixing generations will require intentionality and a vision for it. I would be interested in hearing more about your experiences in this area or resources you have found helpful!