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3 Ways to Encourage Peace Between Generations in Denominations

It takes work to have a harmonious family.

That’s true of your biological family and your church family.

It’s also true of your denominational family.

The fact is, each member within a family has a tendency to find their own style and way in life. But as each individual develops their own unique identity, they should not develop a spirit of pride over the others in the family.

That’s a key to peace and unity in denominations.

Denominations should recognize that their uniqueness is part of a healthy diversity that can serve the family well. There should be a complementary understanding of uniqueness. Each generation can idolize its own ways to the point of conflict. (We call this “the teenage years” at home.)

But maturity and unity take effort and understanding … and it can and does come to denominations that will pursue it.

The Challenge

Often in denominations, those with experience who are trying to encourage stability are seen as out of touch. Sometimes they are out of touch, but my experience is that they often just have a different view.

Those who are pushing the envelope to make an immediate impact are seen as aggressive.

But often the two groups are just talking (or shouting) past each other.

Maintaining Unity

So, unity takes work in the church. However, I am thinking right now about the way churches interact at the district, regional or national denominational level. This could be a group of several to dozens of churches in a given area that share doctrine, but have unique approaches to ministry.

There are traditional-styled churches, contemporary, incarnational, non-traditional or whatever else. Each feels like it is obeying God and serving their communities on mission, but they are doing it differently.

It’s often the same doctrine but a different church culture.

So how do you maintain peace in this area? How to we keep the enemy from using their generational differences to disrupt unity.

My view is simple: Peace is not a one-sided endeavor. It takes a deal of commitment from both sides to truly have unity.

Paul wrote, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).

I’d like to suggest three things that can help keep the peace:

1. Refrain From Arrogant Attitudes

This means that young pastors have no business sending out mailers saying, “This ain’t your grandma’s church. Are you tired of boring, dead (Pentecostal/Baptist/Methodist/etc.) churches? Ours is smoking.”

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Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books.