There are over 300,000 churches in America, each with their own culture, service times, and size… what is your church like? Does yours have hymn books or worship lyrics on a screen? What kind of small groups does it have? Does it have a band or a church choir? Do people come dressed in suits and ties or jeans and T-Shirts?
Do you see a mix of both young and older people in your church, or is one generation more prominent? Some churches have better ministry to specific age groups, and that’s great and that’s healthy! …Usually. But what about when it’s not healthy? What about when some churches are too focused on getting millennials and forget about the older generation, or when churches are unwilling to step out of their comfort zones and subsequently don’t see growth? What about when the age gap between older and younger believers causes segregation and hostility within the church community?
I hate seeing the division the age gap often causes, and Satan loves it. He wants Christ’s church to be divided. He wants the older members of the church to be frustrated with the younger generation, and vice versa. He would love to see the church fall apart from the inside out. But if we look at God’s word, he paints a beautiful picture of how the older believers and the younger believers should interact. Here are a few examples:
1 Timothy 5:1-2 – Never speak harshly to an older man, but appeal to him respectfully as you would to your own father. Talk to younger men as you would to your own brothers. Treat older women as you would your mother, and treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters.
1 Timothy 4:12 – Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.
Titus 2:3-5 – Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
I am so, so, so thankful to have older believers in my own life who have poured into me, invested in me, and discipled me. I look up to these people so much. Generational differences could have easily caused disunity, but I have been able to learn so much from mature Christian brothers and sisters in my own community. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). The younger generation truly craves the older generation’s wisdom and leadership, and when those relationships of guidance-and-learning are pursued, it can create a beautiful picture of discipleship.
And here’s a bit of encouragement! There’s an article on bibleresources.org that has a quote I love: “Even as Satan is attempting to create outright warfare among the generations, the Lord is restoring unity to them, and He is beginning this work inside the church. Within our families, ministries, churches, jobs, schools, etc., God is knitting together multi-generational teams that will fulfill various purposes for His kingdom.”
“Church” isn’t confined to 4 walls or 2 services. The church is the body, so if we are divided within the four walls of a building, we will also be divided outside of those four walls. So let’s make it a priority today to be united, regardless of age, as brothers and sisters in Christ and fight the good fight together!
Erin Culleny serves as a Marketing Assistant and Staff Writer. She loves encouraging women through her Victory Calls and finds such joy in praying for her sisters in Christ. Her favorite activities include reading her Bible, encouraging others with scripture, buying new makeup, buying dresses, and eating at the Cheesecake Factory… In that order!