Generational Differences in the Church

 

                Generational differences and frustrations have been a part of life since the beginning of time. Every generation is different. Each generation develops their own culture and their own worldview. In the church, each generation sees things through the lenses of their specific cultural influences. For example, older generations may tend to be more faithful to church attendance than younger generations. They were brought up to make church attendance a top priority. However, in our media saturated and busyness of our day church attendance is just one of many things to be involved in rather than being a priority. With 24-hour access to all types of media, younger generations may feel that they can hear a sermon anywhere, anytime, on any device at their convenience. Therefore, coming to a church on a Sunday to listen to a sermon is seemingly not that necessary to many younger families. Then, of course, you have the differences of style and how you do things that often creates a gap between generations. The younger may dress more casually and prefers the use of more modern music and media elements in a worship service. On the other end, the older generations believe that you should dress-up for church as a sign of respect toward God and they prefer music that is more suitably fitted with the culture that they grew up in. Some generations are attracted to old-fashioned hell fire preaching. Others prefer more intellectual, teaching style sermons. Others, however, prefer small group discussions with a cup of coffee in hand. The challenge is creating an environment that provides opportunity for every generation to grow in their walk with God. The challenge is also bridging the generational divide. With such things in mind we must keep in mind that our relationship with God supersedes all generations. If you know Jesus as your Savior, you have a lot more in common with someone much older than you or much younger than you than you may think. It is our faith in Jesus that unites us. However, even with our unity in Christ we must be willing to minister to every generation in the way in which they will more readily respond. Whether we like it or not, the church must adapt. Not to cater to one generation over the other, but to provide ways for all generations to grow in Christ. What would this look like? Perhaps a more casual and more family-oriented worship service at another time during the week that, yes, includes food and coffee! Perhaps, online streaming of worship services and online videos of Bible teaching and online giving options. Perhaps additional staff, such as a Family Pastor, that would provide a more concentrated effort to minister to young families. As is often said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Whether we are comfortable with it or not, to reach the whole world for Christ, we must be willing to adjust and minister to people with the various generational differences in mind. My prayer is that we would always strive to be a family-oriented church that provides opportunities for all generations to know Jesus and to grow in Him.

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