In so many areas of life/culture, groups of people are divided and set against each other. By race, understandings, generations, cultures, experiences, etc. The Church is always to be the place that no matter what your defining characteristics – we are ONE in Christ. No matter what definitions the world gives you, the foundational characteristic of “Beloved by God, in need of His Grace” is enough to build on for the Kingdom.
Even in the midst of this, there are understandings that improve our ability to serve and work and celebrate life together as one body. Overloading our accounts and pockets with grace, love, humility, and inviting the Holy Spirit to enable us to live/love like Christ are great places to start.
For years now, our culture seems to LOVE age-specific ministries. It’s great developmentally to focus on Jesus and life experiences in ways that are appropriate and easily assimilated into knowledge & life. The problem is when we make these the primary focus of doing church well. We have great kids’ programs for earning important badges. Next, we have a youth group experience with mountain tops and focusing this highly emotional season of life on Jesus. Next, we have students who enjoyed youth group so much – they want a similar experience with their peers as “College Age Ministry”. When that goes well, it seems successful and natural to provide a “Young Adult Ministry”. At some nebulous point after significant life events like owning a home, moving, getting married, etc…a person might simply quietly acquiesce into a “Regular Adult Class”, but not without first attempting a “(age range) Group”.
Like I said – some of this desire is good, and should be harnessed toward life transformation. But some of this simply provides a false experience of a Biblically diverse community made from several generations contributing to life together in the name of Jesus. Church is meant to be inter-generational, not just multi-generational. It’s not enough to say, “Wow, our church has a lot of (desirable age group here)!” Is that group integrated & connected with the other generations, self-identifying as a contributing and valued part of the whole?
Thankfully, many have been realizing this – and some never forgot it. The warning I’ve heard in their writings have been – don’t assume the Love of Jesus will simply wash away the varied (and beautifully important) differences each generation brings to the table. So in closing, I’ll include a chart here that I created after reading some articles/books on the topic. I found it an interesting study, as an artist might appreciate the palate of colors available before beginning a new painting technique… (although I’m more of the artists’ admirer, as Jesus holds the brush) ( (Side note: The authors often indicated that any discussion on generational descriptions is an exercise in Fiction. Of course, we cannot say that all (generation) are like this. But as they’ve studied, certain characteristics seemed common, and worth noting.)