Generation Gaps Not in God’s Plan

Kim and me Mother's Day Tea

Sharing the podium with my daughter Kim as “Two About His Work”

Do you remember when you were the next generation full of hope and ideas and ready to leave your mark on the world? I do. I also remember feeling misunderstood and unappreciated when sharing thoughts and ideas with older adults. Yet 36 times in the New Living Translation of the Bible, the Lord uses the term “generation to generation.” Many more verses instruct us to pour into those who are coming up behind us in the church and in our homes. It was God’s plan for the continuation of His church throughout the generations.

A Privilege Not a Burden

Sharing with the next generation some of what God and life has taught us is truly an honor and a privilege. The blessings multiply when the next generation is teachable and eager to learn.

Throughout the Bible, God instructs one generation of believers to teach and train the next generation [see verses at the end of this blog]. Praise God, over the centuries believers have followed this mandate. Think of it: if they hadn’t, you and I would not be Christians today! We are benefactors of the sacrifices of believers who have gone before us. Over the years, followers of God and His Son, Jesus Christ, have felt compelled to assure that the next generation:

  • has access to the Bible and understands its contents
  • knows how to communicate with God through the Holy Spirit and prayer
  • receives guidance in leading a godly life

What Is Our Generation Doing?

The question our generation must ask is: What is God calling believers—you and me—to do today? How can we invest our lives in the next generation, as Elizabeth (mother of John the Baptist) did with Mary (mother of Jesus)? Each of us must answer that question in a very personal and real way. If you are:

  • A mother, you are influencing the next generation through your children.
  • A Grandmother, your grandchildren.
  • An employer, your employees.
  • A ministry worker, the benefactors of your ministry.
  • A pastor, your congregation.
  • A school teacher, your students.
  • A Sunday school teacher, the children in your classrooms every Sunday.
  • A mentor, your mentee.

Why Do We Have Generation Gaps?

There should never be a generation gap in the church—that was not God’s plan. God commanded that one generation was to pass down His truths to the next generation. In churches today, the gap between generations is often so wide that the only thing passed between the two is mistrust and misunderstanding—all in the name of Jesus.

I believe it’s often the older generation who perpetuate the gap by wanting everything to stay the same—same music, same way of doing things, same church service, same church activities . . . . Many churches relegate the young people to their own groups, and their input—whether in music or talents or ideas—is not welcome in the main sanctuary. Then they wonder why the youth are leaving the church in droves.

Church Is Not About Us

Our job as Christians is not to insist that everything goes our way. The purpose of church is not simply to spiritually feed the congregation; we’re to pass on what we learn to others. The Great Commission tells us to go out and tell the world about Jesus, and that includes the next generation.

If we want to stay relevant in the lives of the next generation, we need to learn how to embrace their style of worship . . . their way of communicating . . . their world. If we want to have an impact in their lives—to help guide them in the ways of righteousness—we need to speak their language, care about the things they care about, and reach out to them in love with a desire to understand what’s important to them.

My Call to “Feed My Sheep”

When I rededicated my life to the Lord in the summer of 1992, it marked a turning point in my life. I moved from thinking of how I could further myself in this world, to how could I further God’s kingdom. When I asked myself the question of what God was calling me to do, He clearly answered. I was to take a huge risk of leaving a well-paying career to go into full-time ministry. Not just any ministry—but a Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry that would teach and train the next generations of believers. The rest is history, as my grandmother used to say.

What Are You Doing to Bridge the Generation Gap?

Many churches today are mentoring, embracing, and equipping the next generation—the future of the church. If you attend or serve in one of those churches, I’d love for you to share specifics of how you are fulfilling Psalm 145:4 NLT

“Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts; let them proclaim your power.”

Here are some verses that reveal the significance of one generation passing down God’s truths to the next generation:

Elizabeth and Mary coverElizabeth and Mary coverSome excerpts of this article are from Face to Face with Elizabeth and Mary: Generation to Generation.

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  1. Amen to the older generation perpetuating the gap. I looked one Sunday morning for all the ladies who had invested in me, and most everyone was gone. Most were either now physically unable to attend or promoted to heaven. God impressed on me the generation I was looking for, well, it is now my friends and myself. I started talking to younger women and they have so much to teach me! We invited younger (20/30 somethings) women to be part of our Women’s Ministry team. We pray together, study the Word together, plan together and serve together. This next generation has a heart for service and presenting the gospel like no other generation I have seen in my 60 years. The future of our church can be in good hands, if we will listen to them, while guiding. One of the specific things I have learned is we have to communicate differently. I have seen changes in the last 10 years that I never dreamed would happen. The world is rapidly changing. Our (the older generation) language has to change (no churchy words), we must learn to use technology and we must realize, without changing the gospel message, the way we deliver the message has to be different. Sorry this comment has been so long. You touched on one of my passions! Thanks for addressing this.

  2. Janet Thompson says:

    Pam, as you can tell it’s one of my passions too and it thrills me to read your comment echoing my heart. It breaks my heart when I see our generation digging in their heals and refusing to appreciate what the next generation has to offer in the church. It’s up to those of us who see this happening to speak up and help the younger generation know how much we value them and help our generation follow God’s plan for the future of the church–coming along side the next generation whatever it takes! By including the next generation in your ministry team, you are doing just what I teach in my book The Team That Jesus Built Bless you my sister in Christ!

    • I am reading “Team Jesus Built” and it is wonderful. But it will take me a while to finish, I try to absorb what I read before I move on. (I am also teaching a Bible study.) I have learned much from your “Woman to Woman” as well. Thanks for taking the time to read/reply.

  3. keijo leppioja says:

    Yes for same the way to us all in Christ with care our ouc children and young people to grow togethres in life with the Holy Spirit and God love us when we has one mind and one hearts to worship our God in pleasure of grace and in sowing our seed together young and old and all in God,thanks and bless and pray,keijo sweden

    • Janet Thompson says:

      Thank you Keijo for sharing your comment from Sweden! Yes, our God is universal and implores us to pray for the next generation and share with them the mighty wonders we have seen Him do (Psalm 145:4-7). Bless you in sharing and living the gospel in Sweden!

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