4 Ways to Bridge the Generational Gap… and Why You Should Care…

Posted: April 16, 2013 in Faith, God, Intergenerational, Religious, Young Adult

I miss writing… there are few things that I openly think about having the time to do, because I enjoy so much of what I do.

Writing is one of the things I often think about and wish I had more time to do. Of course, I also wish I had time to watch every episode of The A-Team and The Tick (the animated series, of course!) all over again as well.

When Faye and I first began what is now Encounter at The Freedom Center, being purposefully intergenerational was (and still is) a top priority. We have watched a separation in the Church Body that is, at times necessary, but seems to foster unfamiliarity amongst the different generations represented in the local church.

Here is an excerpt from a book called “You Lost Me” by Dave Kinnaman.

“For too long, we have assumed that we do good youth or young-adult ministry when we separate kids from the rest of the church. Of course, there are times when 6 and 16 and 66 year-olds need to be on their own with folks in their same life stage, but we have swung the pendulum too far. We have segregated (believe me, this is not a verb I use lightly) students and young adults from the rest of the church—and it’s hurting their faith.
Our Sticky Faith research shows that the more high school and college students are engaged in the overall life of the church, the stronger their faith. We’re seeing churches experimenting with countless intergenerational connections, ranging from short-term service to hobby mentoring (e.g., cooking, gardening, art) to intentional small groups. Plus lots of churches are taking the “adult” events they already do (e.g., women’s breakfasts, men’s dinners) and strategically inviting kids to join in.
I believe the future of youth and young-adult ministry is intergenerational. It’s good for students and young adults, and it’s great for the church.”

-Kara Powell (executive director of the Fuller Youth Institute and co-author of “Sticky Faith”)

I need the generations around me, and other generations, you need me.

I need you because there are places that you have walked that I have not… you need me because of the same thing… no one generation has it figured out. The heart of one generation can teach lessons to the heart of another generation.

As I’ve thought about this… more intensely over the last few days, I’m reminded of Encounter’s first intergenerational prayer night. It was so encouraging! It was so comforting to see older generations praying life into our generation. Connections were made… familiarity was birthed… steps were taken, but we also saw a more complete picture of the task that is in front of us. This wasn’t just about teaching our generation to be spiritual sons and daughters. There are generations ahead of us that have no idea how to be spiritual fathers and mothers either.

We should care about that… a lot…

I’m no expert, but here are 4 quick points of thought on the topic of unity amongst the generations that won’t leave my head!

Have you READ the Bible!?
Can’t really argue with this one. Titus 2:1-8 speaks of the duties of older and younger men and women. We have duties towards each other… I have a responsibility towards guys who are younger than me. John writes to 3 different age groups/spiritual maturity levels in 1 John 2:12-14, and conveys his own knowledge to each of them. Need I even mention the examples of non-familial discipleship throughout the Bible?

Thought not…

Recognize that you don’t recognize your need for this.
My life was changed because the generation before me passed what they had of the Holy Spirit on to me… quite literally, actually. I thought I had a pretty complete picture of life, or at least as complete as I thought I could have at the time. That experience opened my eyes to a depth of the Father that I never knew existed. I have no doubt that its because these men, who had what I didn’t, passed what they did have on to me.

I had nothing to compare my life to. Then I did. Consider my world rocked.

“Fear not!” -Jesus.
Think about this statement: Each generation has some level of intimidation by and towards other generations. You know that’s true. I have seen POWERFUL people feel utterly powerless in the presence of a 17 year old. I have watched (and been) men and women who have accomplished Kingdom things, feel belittled in the presence of the elderly. Don’t get me started on children! You have to admit that people tend to fear what is unfamiliar… and we are quite unfamiliar with each other.

This is SO crippling individually and corporately… seriously… you see that don’t you?

…don’t you?

We are a bunch of 1 legged people in an… well, you get the idea.
I alluded to this earlier, but there are many within our generation that have no idea how to be spiritual sons and daughters. There are also many in generations above us that have no idea how to be spiritual fathers and mothers.

So… how do we do this then?

How do we do this, and also put my generation in position to be the next spiritual fathers and mothers? You can’t teach someone to walk when you don’t know how, and you can expect them to walk when they’ve never been taught.

Everything starts with being intentional and deliberate. We have to be purposeful in our interactions with each other. There has to be honor and respect across the board. There has to be a purposeful atmosphere of family produced even when it isn’t safe, comfortable, or easy to do so. That is EVERYONE’s responsibility.

Kids just believe… I don’t know how… they just do. I have them pray for me in the Clubhouse at TFC.

Middle aged men have walked where I haven’t. I learn that all the time at Men’s Ministry.

I sat across the table from an elderly man at The French Laundry this past Wednesday morning and listened to his wisdom… things from the Bible that had never crossed my mind.

Likewise, I hope these generations get something from me… a different perspective on manhood, different views on the Bible, a passion for truth, an appreciation for The A-Team and The Tick.

Regardless, I have to be intentional in my interactions with everyone in order to bridge this generational gap. I expect it to be bridged at The Freedom Center and beyond.

I hope this was informative and encouraging. Be courageous, Church. Go out and be deliberate… deliberate with the WHOLE Church!

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Comments
  1. Lori says:

    This is really good and really necessary. Pursue this goal! You are the first pastor I have ever “heard” share about being “intergenerational” and yet the Bible is quite clear on the older teaching the younger and vise versa. I’m excited! We need EVERYONE in the body of Christ. I so value the conversations I get to have from time to time with people that have been where I am and where I am going. They have insight that my peers just do not possess. It’s really invaluable.

    • Thanks!

      It’s been on Faye and I’s hearts since the moment we started Encounter. It’s going to be a crazy road, but I feel that The Lord really wants us (Church) to open this door.

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