A Family Has All Generations

Even in a church with a variety of generations there is a pull toward separating the generations even within the gathered church. Various generations need to worship and serve together. Growing up in a very program-based church, the only time my family spent together Sunday morning was the time in car arriving and leaving the gathered church. As soon as we hit the door of the church we were all funneled into our own environments of age-graded Bible study and worship. Often churches that have multiple worship services will design one for the older members and another for the younger ones. All of this generational segregation tends to reinforce our desire to consider our particular age group as the one that matters most. While there is a place for age appropriate learning within the church there is also much to be learned as young children observe older children and adults worshiping and serving. It is good for adults to rejoice when small children and infants are with their parents in worship and activities of the church. The noise of children in worship is cause for rejoicing. When we make accommodations for the needs of generations other than our own, it serves to remind us that we are not the focus of attention. God alone is the desire of our heart, and we can more fully embrace and enjoy Him when we think less of ourselves. The disciples tried generational segregation and Jesus would have none of it. ”Let the little Children come to me.”

The struggle to embrace a different generation cuts both ways. Older people must find their joy in passing off leadership to the next generation. They must learn to find their joy in witnessing the next generation incarnating the gospel into their context. They must let go of the idol of the past, their need to control and most importantly their need to be made much of for all the work they have put in over the years. They need to rejoice in all the work Jesus has done for them through the years. And the younger people need to identify the real and meaningful struggle that older people endure. The constant sense of loss. The loss of a career, the loss of loved ones, the loss of mobility, the loss of understanding how things work, like smart phones. The loss of control of their lives, knowing that they face an ever declining future of less independence and more reliance on others. Young people need to show an overwhelming amount of compassion to older people and walk with them through this difficult stage in life. As we focus more and more on the beauty, perfection and complete satisfaction that is our bridegroom, we will embrace the reality that all of us who are in this church are His bride. The very young to the very old, all are His bride.

This article originally appeared here.

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John Mark Clifton is a pastor, church planter, church revitalizer, mission strategist, coach, and mentor to young leaders. He has planted numerous churches and most recently replanted a dying urban core church in Kansas City, MO.