Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Generation Gap

"...your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams." Acts 2:17

Whoever invented the generation gap in Christianity? Not God!

Sadly, the church in the West often emulates society, and not the other way around. Heavy emphasis is placed on the youth who are important. They are the future. However, gearing resources and attention to this age demographic specifically to the exclusion of others creates the same imbalance found in popular culture.

Peter's speech in Acts was revolutionary. Sex, age and social rank didn't matter in God's kingdom. Women, children and slaves could participate on equal footing with men. This was unprecedented for that time, and still is in certain situations today. Old mindsets, unfortunately, die hard.

With the exception of the Israelites who would not enter the Promise Land, the term generation in the bible isn't age specific. Jesus spoke of the destruction of Jerusalem coming upon a generation (Matt. 23:36). The scope of the calamity wasn't limited to the chronological age of His listeners. Everyone: young, old, men, women, and children were affected. Biblically speaking, a generation refers to all who are alive at a particular time period.

Society's glorification of youth fuels the notion of a generation gap. The church doesn't need to follow their lead. Age, maturity and experience produces a different perspective. Things aren't as simple as a child might suppose. Rather than being a point of division, this should be further impetus to keep all engaged and working together.

Placing the majority of our efforts and resources to reach the youth means we'll miss opportunities to reach older people who may have more influence on social and political issues, and also control a large portion of the world's purse strings. Young fiery believers are potential world changers. Is it wise, however, to wait several decades for them to step into the shoes of those already shaping world policy and events, assuming that their zeal for God will remain intact?

God's plan was to keep all age groups actively participating - together. For those of us who are older, we need to stay involved with our younger counterparts. They don't look, act, talk or think like we do, but hey, we were once young and weird too. The young have energy, enthusiasm, and a different world to negotiate than we did. In reality, the good old days were not as ideal as we remember them to be.

The up and coming church can benefit greatly from the wisdom and experience of older Christians. Their problems/conflicts/dilemmas may be wrapped differently than those of past generations, but at the core: "there nothing new under the sun." Ecc. 1:9. The Body of Christ has invented a plethora of reasons for division. Age shouldn't be one of them.

How about you? Where do you fit into this generation of the church? If an older person, do you feel left out? If so, what steps can you take to connect with younger believers? If you're on the other end of the spectrum, how can you benefit from the wealth of wisdom and experience many more mature Christians have accumulated over the years? As the Body of Christ, how can we integrate all age groups and eliminate a Christian generation gap?


  1. Mary, This is a very relevant piece. In our day, there's a huge emphasis on being "relevant" and on focusing on "Millennials", often to the exclusion of just about everyone else. It's ironic that ours was the rebellious young generation that upset our elders and fueled the use of the term "generation gap". Today, the Woodstock generation seems to be viewed as irrelevant, old, and (amazingly) uncool! Anything "traditional" is rejected in more and more churches. Listen, I'm all for making certain changes. Of course, there's a place for that. But the church needs to be "welcoming and affirming" to steal a term from the "liberal churches" to not only people under 45, but (perish the thought!) to the "over 60" crowd of which I'm a part! AND, our outreach and evangelism needs to be to EVERYBODY!

    1. This piece was originally written as a response to an article I'd read. A couple of "older" guys decided to visit a church that was run by "younger" Christians. The church had the obligatory dark setting, stage lights, contemporary music and coffee bar. I have no problem with any of these. Anyway, they purchased their coffee and stood around and observed. What happened was...nothing. The writer said they might just have well been invisible. They were totally ignored. The only reason the writer could assume was their age. It was so sad.

  2. Mary, my kids (Jon & Rachel) visited a similar church sometime ago. They had little trouble with the casual dress and focus on young people (although they really don't care for the "obligatory dark setting"). At this particular church, people are drinking coffee and eating pastries during the service. What bothered Rachel is that they also have stools FACING THE BACK of the church, and people were sitting there eating and drinking (and NOT facing the pastor) DURING THE SERMON! What bothered my son is that the pastor said "God never says in His Word to 'mind your own business'"; but in the New Testament, there is a verse that DOES say that. I'm proud of the fact that neither of them ever went back to that church!