Every Generation Matters: Working Together to Strengthen the Kingdom of God

 In Children's Ministry, Sara Humphrey, Student Ministry

We have all heard the terms: the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z.  Generational theory, the grouping of individuals into particular social groups with a shared identity determined by the year of their birth and life experiences, began in the early 20th century and gained momentum in the mid to late 20th century as marketing firms began to explore how to best market to specific groups, giving each group nicknames in order to create a collective conscious (source: Refocus Ministries Inc.)

We may have also heard the term intergenerational ministry — a fancy term which basically means bringing members of various generations together for worship, prayer, learning, and service.  It is not just about getting everyone in the same room, however.  It is about intentionally creating spaces where each generation can interact and get to know one another; to build relationships with one another; to learn from one another.  These interactions will hopefully lead to a strong Christian community where everyone is valued and loved for what they offer to the community. No matter what our birth year, we are connected to one another by our faith in God and the desire to spread the love and teachings of Jesus to the world.

In order to build connection, we must realize what each generation brings to the community and what each generation needs from the community. Older generations have knowledge of church history and traditions. They have wisdom and life experience.  They need to be able to share their knowledge and experiences while passing on the faith to younger generations.  They need to be needed.  Gen X-ers like myself often bridge the gap between older and younger generations.  We recognize the need to honor the wisdom of older generations while engaging younger generations.  We are problem solvers—we look to connect with one another through relationships and serving.  Younger generations are growing up in a rapidly changing and diverse world.  They need a place to belong, where they can use their gifts and talents to develop their identity.  They need opportunities to serve and put their faith into action.

I realize that is a quick and generalized overview of generations, but the message is this—when we understand that each group has unique strengths and needs as part of a church community, we can begin to incorporate practices that meet generational needs and allow gifts to be shared.  The ultimate goal is to find ways for our faith community to connect with one another in meaningful ways for the purpose of following Jesus better.  As we, ourselves, become better disciples of Christ, we can then share His message to our communities and the world.  It begins with us. How can we bring generations together to strengthen the kingdom of God?

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