The differences between the oldest generations and the up-and-comers today are astronomical. More so than any time in history. The young adults who are leading the way in society today are nothing like their grandparents.
At least two factors have helped distance the generations: the rapid growth in technology caused generations to be shorter and the industrial revolution has extended the life-span of older Americans. As a result, there are more generations living together now than any time since the days of Noah and older generations will live longer than any generation since the days of Methuselah.
These factors are having a major affect on the church today and will continue to be amplified as technology continues to reinvent itself and the quality of life continues to improve. The ramifications are beyond anyone’s imagination because no one has every lived through these circumstance.
A new book, A Vision for the Aging Church by James M Houston and Michael Parker is attempting to address this problem and offer solutions to how the church can minister to seniors and be blessed by them as well.
This book had several profound points that honestly made me rethink how I view older Christians. Not that I didn’t have a respect for my elders, but I was ready to move on without them. As someone who has worked with and looks forward to church planting, I have often wondered how to balance a church with an appropriate representation from every generation. The experiences I’ve had are that churches tend to flock to their comfort levels and that means dividing by generational influence (I once spoke in a church that didn’t have anyone under the age of 40 in it). I had just about given up on trying to find the balance of a cross-generational church. But while you might be able to pull off a church that isn’t multi-ethnic, it is essential that a church be multi-generational.
A church without generations is missing one of the most vital commissions of the church: making disciples.
“Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.” Titus 2:1-8 esv
Houston and Parker offer compelling arguments on why we need this important generation and suggest that it says a lot about our culture when we neglect them. It is important that the church be counter-cultural and show the love of Christ by being patient and considerate of those who have gone before us.
If you are a young aspiring leader, you need to read this book. If you are dealing with how to take care of your aging parents, you need to read this book. If you are an older member of a church and you are trying to figure out your place in ministry, you need to read this book.
I’m hoping to make this book available for those willing to make donations to Songtime.
I will keep you updated.