I am fortunate to be a part of a multi-generation church where anyone age 13+ will attend the same Sunday morning service. We do not cater toward the young or the old, but instead try our best to have a Sunday morning service that is inclusive to a wide-range of people. We value the generations gathering together for one service.
So, a great task before us is the challenge of engaging each of those generations in a meaningful way that keeps them mentally, spiritually, and emotionally involved. If we swing too much into tradition, younger generations will unplug since the world around them has moved on. If we swing too young, the wisdom of the past will get lost and we will have a haphazard approach to the spiritual formation and development of those who are new in the faith.
To me, this is a beautiful tension that carries the weight of the church as an institution and simultaneously propels it into the future. Each generation is given unique set of years to steward God’s church. We are continually accepting it as the younger generation, adapting as the middle generation, and letting go as the older generation.
- The younger generation – the future
You need to be bold! Explore new endeavors. What’s popular…what’s current…what’s fresh? Don’t fear commitment, but instead consider how you can begin to take up the mantle of leadership that the church needs you to accept. Don’t be afraid to mimic others as you figure out who you are and who you aren’t. Find YOUR voice. While some of your ideas might be rejected at first, don’t stop trying things. Someday you will have excellent ideas through the refining process of your maturing and the church’s growth. As things bother you in the church, follow that! Don’t bring dishonor to older generations, but pursue those irritations you find, because they will lead you to your passions.
- The current generation – the visionaries
You’re carrying the weight. You are the generation who will get burnt out from ministry. Honor those who have gone before, and make way for those who are coming. It’s up to you to hold tightly onto the traditions of God, while carefully breaking the “traditions of men” so the church does not fall behind. Find ways to invite the next generation into your waters. Give them a platform to mess up a little bit, and cover them with grace. You are carrying the mantle, and the mantle can be heavy. But find ways to remain inspired and renew strength–the older generations can help with this.
- The past generation – the conservers
Don’t be discouraged about the process of letting go. It is healthy. God preserves his church. The work that you’ve done was not at all in vain, and your work of ministry is never finished. Continually speak into the church and mentor the current generation. You have walked through more stories and culture. You have sharpened your wisdom beyond what younger generations can comprehend. Letting go is not giving up, instead it is channeling your wisdom in a way that keeps the church pointed in the right direction. Some of what you think is wisdom is just the way of the past, and that’s ok—that’s what needs to be let go. But if you can humbly sift through your experience, their are diamonds there that will always be treasured and remain part of God’s church.
God preserves His church and His people. He always has and always will. It will take on new faces, new ways of doing things, new endeavors. Older generations won’t always like where it’s going, and younger generations won’t always find it relevant. But it will always go on: big or small, loud or soft, passionate or reverent, morning or evening, contemporary or traditional, relevant or alternative.
This is post is #52 on this blog. At the end of November, I am going to be scaling back how often I post. I’m planning to post once or twice a month. Thank you so much for reading my thoughts as I grow and process worship leading, church ministry & leadership, and my personal relationship with Christ.