Generational Differences 8: One Last Word

Rick Mattson Church 2 Comments

If you’ve been following my Generational Differences blog, you’ll notice that I believe the differences between old and young in the church are significant and important.

But not insurmountable.

College students givin’ it up to Jesus at a recent conf.

My advice to young people is to be yourselves but remain humble — or you will be humbled by the next generation.

And seek out the wisdom of older folks while they’re still available. The boomers are just beginning to move out of leadership in local churches. Perhaps if you reach out to them they will stick around and serve under your emerging leadership.

To oldsters like myself: I call for communication that is cross-cultural.

It’s called contextualization, and we expect our foreign missionaries to do it. But somehow we’ve exempted ourselves. We’ve been slow to adapt to younger cultural forms — perhaps out of fear of compromising the gospel (and perhaps for worse reasons as well).

Additionally, we’ve sought to inculcate young people into the boomer church culture we’ve created. The result, unfortunately, has been disastrous. Young people have left the church in droves. Our way of doing things is simply too foreign to them.*

A radical (and biblical) solution: One of my oldster friends, Lynn, has suggested to me that any church that started playing country and blue grass music on Sunday mornings would quickly become a magnet for visitors — especially those 35 and under (though hippies from the 1960s, now gray haired and ponytailed, might dig it as well).

I don’t care for that kind of tuneage, but I think Lynn is actually saying something much larger:

That the precious treasure of New Wine with which we’ve been entrusted must, absolutely must, be stored in and distributed from new wineskins. The old ones are wearing mighty thin.

* See the introduction to the book You Lost Me by David Kinnaman

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