We have a tendency to gather with people who are most like us—and that includes those who are a similar age to us. There’s nothing particularly wrong with that, but when we become exclusive in our relationships, well, that isn’t such a good thing.
Think about it. A family consists of at least two generations—parents and children. There are generally grandparents involved, as well, and possibly even great-grandparents. And oh, what a treasure-trove of wisdom and love there is to be found when the generations come together!
Well, guess what? The same multi-generational family “thing” can and should be true in our church family. We need to worship together, fellowship together, pray together, and serve together. Much of the credit of who I am in Christ today goes to people like Joan, Gary, Rosie, Judy, Denny, Shirley, and others who took the time to teach me Jesus and to pour into my young life. Likewise, I cannot imagine what my life would be like without having had the love and wisdom of people like Albert, Edna, Gloria, Mary, Don, Clifford, Richard, Shirley, Tessie, and many others as I was transitioning into a young adult in the church—an adult learning to lead.
What I’m saying is that we need each other. We need to cross the generational boundaries in order to effectively disciple one another. Without passing the torch, so to speak, much is lost in the stability of the local church and the Church in general. The younger generation needs to know the how and why of leadership. Discernment is learned best when taught by someone who has years of practice.
Think of it like this: you wouldn’t ask one eight year-old to teach another eight year-old their multiplication tables. Neither has the wisdom nor experience necessary to do so. They need to learn from someone who has had the time to learn them and put them to good use.
Now that I’ve “set the stage”, I’m going to quit talking and give you a list of ways to share the Gospel across the generations. Some of the things on the list are things that aren’t necessarily outreach-oriented, but will help you grow as brothers and sisters in Christ. They will strengthen the bonds you have with one another. Other things on the list put you together as a family for the purpose of showing the world (or at least the world around you) who Jesus is.
Are you ready? Let’s go…
- Don’t separate children from the worship service for at least one service a month.
- Make sure people from all generations chaperone and help with youth events.
- Have an old-fashioned box supper where the young people or young families share their box with people from the generation up from theirs.
- Have a mentoring program in your church. Seniors mentor 40s-50s and 40s-50s mentor 20s-30s and 20s-30s mentor the teens.
- Have a grandparent program in your church. Pair older people in the church with families with young children. Have events where they come together as a “family” and encourage them to fellowship outside of the church setting.
- Go on mission trips together.
- Recruit adults in their 30s and up to work in church camp for a week or so each summer.
- Pair young and old to work together at community outreach events.
- Establish a nursing home ministry using the teens and 20-somethings in your church.
- Use adults in the children’s programs and vice versa.
There’s a beautiful song written by Bill and Gloria Gaither titled, “Family of God”. Part of the song goes like this: “I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God. I’ve been washed in the fountain; cleansed by the blood. Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod…”
Joint heirs—that’s what we are. Joined through the blood of Christ no matter how old we are, so embrace your Christian family and join together in sharing the Gospel with those who are lost and in need of the Savior.
~ By Darla Noble
- How to Pass on Your Faith to the Next Generation
- How to Bridge the Generational Gap in the Church
- What Each Generation Can Bring to the Church