I pick up bread for our homeless ministry two mornings a week and yesterday while I was there I had a really interesting conversation with one of the volunteers. He was probably in his 70s and was having a hard time loading all the bread in his truck so I suggested that he get a few of the young guys from his church to come out and help him. He said he would but the high school/college age students were to busy playing their video games and texting to come out and help. I asked him what he thought about that and he said there is a huge gap between the old and the young and technology is to blame, etc etc. I’m not going to blame it on technology, but I couldn’t agree with him more. This generational gap is huge and it’s causing disunity in the church.
I know everyone believes there needs to be unity among the generations, especially in the area of mentoring, but I’m not so sure everyone believes it’s vital for spiritual growth. Unfortunately, I don’t know that I have ever seen or read about a bigger disconnect between the generations as we are currently experiencing right now in the American church. Today’s youth and today’s adults are a world apart and the sad thing is I don’t hear anyone in the Christian community voicing a whole lot of concern over it. Besides the very few individual discipling relationships our old men do not hang out with our young men and the trend is getting worse.
Think about it. In the old days you lived in the same town as your parents and your grandparents so you went to the same church as the adults you’d grown up with. If a young person got out of line or needed someone to talk to, he had his dad and his dad’s friends who could whip him back into shape or sit him down and talk things through. If that didn’t work he had his grandfather and his grandfather’s friends who he’d also known for years and he could sit down with them as well. For thousands of years and maybe even since the beginning of time people primarily lived in the same town they grew up in, but not any more. Technology, travel, and education have taken kids away from their parents and most young adults and college students don’t live in the same community they grew up in; the norm is now to leave home. As a result our young people barely even know anyone over the age of 40. Obviously, I’m probably not telling you anything you haven’t already heard, but I share all that to urgently say that without the intervention, discernment, and wisdom from senior adults it’s only going to get worse.
Scripture talks over and over and over about unity among believers, and in almost every instance it talks about the old mentoring the young. If the church of Jesus Christ is going to carry out the Great Commission something needs to change. The young people need the senior adults and the senior adults need the young people. Young people have vision and passion and they tend to go at life full speed ahead. At the same time senior adults have experience and discernment, and have been down some of these same roads before. We need each other. We should encourage churches to facilitate events strictly aimed at bringing unity. Eat meals together regularly, cancel Sunday nights every now and then and have a potluck dinner. Shake up your Sunday School hour every so often and merge an old and a young class with the intention of bringing unity. When the two groups genuinely love each other they will invest in each other and prayerfully in turn love a community. If we can’t love each other should it be any surprise why we can’t love a community searching for Jesus?
"The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.