Leading people from different generations can be really difficult.
Christianity Today talks about generational differences and the subsequent conflict as one of the primary reasons for division in the church, and this tension is increasing.
One of the main reasons for this is our rapidly changing culture. “In past centuries, because culture changed more slowly, when people entered the church, they entered into [a common] church culture. They sang common music and spoke a common language. -Christianity Today
Today, we are fragmented, and as a culture this fragmentation is rapidly changing. With this idea in mind, I was even more proud of our organization when a visitor shared that we at Trinity (www.encountertrinity.com) bridge the generational divide really well.
Though I am sure we don’t do it perfectly and we have our share of tension, I will pass along our little secret.
We work to build a very specific generational culture in our church. Here is our “secret sauce.”
We constantly push the young to build a culture of honor toward those that have gone before them. We constantly push the old to build a culture of hope for the younger generations to grow toward.
A culture of honor.
It’s popular and almost encouraged by secular media to create a culture of blame. (I’m tipping my hat towards CNN right now…Fox News is next, calm down!) Specifically, the younger blaming their predecessors for the socioeconomic and spiritual difficulties in the world. In our organization we do have someone and something to blame and it’s not old people – it’s sin and Satan. We also teach that this world is fallen and corrupt. The older folks struggled themselves as they were also handed a fallen and broken world. We at Trinity Church don’t create a culture of blame towards old folks, we build a culture of honor for their best effort and look to them to build a culture for us, which leads me to my next cultural value.
A culture of hope.
It’s equally popular among many older adults to create a culture of doom and misery. (Ahem, Fox News…) Here is the truth. The doomsayers are right! This world will fall, but it isn’t the millennials fault. I personally see a lot of potential in them! (See 4 Reasons I love Millennials for more.) The world was predestined to fall long before any of them ever walked the earth. The blame is sin and Satan. The good news, Jesus is coming again! A perfect kingdom and renewed culture will be created. Most people work really hard to hyper focus on what is broken now. We as an organization work to remind and lift their eyes to the glorious perfection that awaits those that embrace Christ. (See Modernity is Dead for more.)
Additionally, at a practical level it’s really hard to coach, encourage or speak into someone’s life when all you do is berate them. Lastly,
most young adults are looking for a party when what they need is a family.
If our churches will embrace a culture of honor and hope they just might find it.
So, how do we bridge the generational divide? With a culture of honor and hope.
*Christianity Today. Can Your Church Leadership Represent Every Generation? Last Accessed July 26, 2018 https://www.christianitytoday.com/pastors/2009/summer/can-your-church-leadership-represent-every-generation.html