One of the most talked about, or “swept under the rug” topics in America might just be how to bridge the gap between generations in the church.
This is something that I’m sure most, if not all, churches have encountered at some point in time. Churches today most likely have five generations under their roofs: The Silent Generation (born 1925-1945); Baby Boomers (1946-1964); Generation X (1965-1979); Millennials (1980-2000) and Generation Z (2000-present). Of course, everywhere you look online the years for each generation fluctuate, but the years I have listed are close enough for at least a point of reference.
In a lot of churches, it might be easier to stick the older generations in a “Traditional” service and younger generations in a “Contemporary” service, but we can and should make the effort to do more to come together as believers.
I think there are many ways that we can bridge the gap of generational separation, if we so choose (if we so choose being the key words in that last statement). I’ve talked to peers and heard what they would do if it were up to them to make this change, and here a few of mine and their suggestions.
- Engage in a multi-generational bible study.
This is something that is easier than it sounds. Think about it, Bible studies are generally focused on groups that all have something in common, for example, a men’s Bible study, a new mother’s Bible study, etc. One thing we all have in common as believers is our love for the Lord, which has no age limit. We all live in the same world today, whether that looks different for other generations or not, anything we learn about how to be a light in the world today is applicable to all ages.
- Engage in discipleship/mentorship.
This concept is at the heartbeat of my home church and should be at the forefront of any Christ-follower’s life. For us to adequately “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,” (Matt. 28:19) that starts in and near our homes. Meet once a week with someone who is a “spiritual parent” if you will, or meet with someone that you can enrich their walk with Christ through the time you spend together. Discipleship is important, we can learn much from each other when it is done how God intended. When we disciple others, we are making disciples that in turn, make more disciples.
- Make a habit of sharing testimonies.
This is something that I know will especially resonate with Millennials, the over sharers. But beyond just that generation, everyone benefits when one believer in Christ is open and transparent about the journey the Lord has led them throughout their life. When you hear someone else’s testimony you bond together because you hear their heart. It can be uncomfortable, and not everything about someone’s testimony needs to shared in mixed company or big groups, but a level of transparency is appreciated and helps groups bond together.
- Engage in church-wide service projects.
Anyone who has ever been on a mission trip or church-wide service project can tell you that when you work together, either physically or spiritually to meet a common goal, a bond is made. When I went on a mission trip to Nicaragua in college, age practically meant nothing among us who were serving. We worked alongside each other in extreme heat, we laughed with each other and rejoiced in salvations of the people we visited, and at the end of each day we came together as a team to tell each other about what the Lord had done in each of our lives that day. The same goes for a community beautification project, sorting food in the church care center, or any other project that needs assistance.
- Start a cross-generational prayer ministry.
Nothing touches my heart more than when someone tells me they are praying for me and I know that they specifically set time out of their day to lift my name to the Lord. One of the best people I know at doing this very thing is my Grandma, or Grams as I like to call her. I am convinced that my Grams has a direct-line to God when she prays. The power of prayer for each other as Christians should not be underestimated. Through prayer we can accomplish much and provide support in times where nothing else can be done. Having many generations engage in prayer for each other can not only help the people being prayed over, but it bonds people together.
I hope some of these ideas seem like tangible ways to bridge the generation gap in your life or home church.
When we build walls because people are “different” than we are, we as Christians are doing ourselves a great disservice by not learning from each other.
Younger generations, soak in all the knowledge you can from older generations, they’ve been there and done that! Older generations, don’t hesitate to learn from someone younger than yourself, you might be surprised at the things they know!
Most of all, love each other without limitations or borders. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt. 22:37-39)