If you’re in middle age (like myself) or older, and you start hanging around young Christians, you’ll probably notice that they see the world a little differently.
The chart below compares a few basic beliefs of older and younger Christians.
This is part two in my comparision of generations.
I’m defining “older” as 45 and up, “younger” as 35 and under. (35-45 can go either way.)
Of course these comparisons are general trends and don’t represent every individual.
In any case, a question that I ponder all the time is what these differences mean for ministry in and through the church.
What do you think?
You are right about younger generation's view of homosexuality and the social gospel. There is much more diversity on the other issues, in part because most do not have theologically -developed thinking (as per Christian Smith's research).
Regardless of the nuances for any given category, it is certainly true that the differences create tension in how church should be experienced. What I find interesting about your tabulation is it somewhat explains the differences I've observed in what the age groups are looking for in specific ministry expressions at our church. Meaning to me that you are on to something.
I think the biggest difference of expression is the role of the bible, and the interaction with the bible. That tends to color other things. Older folks want it studied, exegisis, heurminuetics and other words I can't be bothered to spell correctly. Younger folks want the stories, and a relationship to their own.
Coming from a “young guy” and someone who did not grow up in this country, I think this is an incredible opportunity for the church to shed some of the cultural (American) Christianity and replace it with a more more biblical christianity. I think the pushback from the “younger generation” has the potential to do that, but leading the church through that process is not for the faint of heart!
What does it say that this “older” guy–one old enough to be your mentor–is on the “younger” side of thes equations in almost every case? I guess I am young for my age.
Why are there only two columns? Might there be another way?
To answer your root question, it means patience and discipleship are essential. I have found one-on-one discipleship is the best outlet to deepen a “youngs” perception and at the same time allow them to connect their story with the “story” of God's Word. It takes massive amounts of time but then again if the “olds” had been doing it all along in the first place it wouldn't be so radically new and hard it would just be…well, what Jesus did. 🙂
In Discipleship, you can touch on every part of your chart regardless of whether it falls under “olds” or “youngs.” The question is are we going to invest in the lives of others like Jesus or not? AND are WE willing to submit to someone else like the disciples did? Like Timothy did? Like Paul did? Like John Mark did? Like Titus did? Etc.
Rick, I think this rings mostly true. You could add another column or two on topics like evolution/creation, or engagement in the (American) political process, and/or political positions taken. I find myself strongly drawn to the younger side of these issues. Since I am chronologically in the older column, what implications does this have for my own ministry — inter-generational?
Hey everyone, I hope that actually naming some of the differences will help the generations understand each other and work together. I'll keep at this topic for a few more weeks.
Bob: diversity, noted.
Peter: approaches to the Bible, yes. Older gen looks for essential, universal meaning. Younger: the story, the flow.
Andrew: You radical!
Dietrich: You are young at heart.
Erik: A third way? You're in the 35-45 range, so you should be primed to offer up an idea. I'd love to hear it.
Pastor Chris: Your comments raise the idea with me of how my generation (old) has influenced (or failed to influence) the young ones.
Jim: Stay tuned for more issues. Actually, several oldsters have written to me about identifying with many of the young values.
Dietrich Gruen, I, too, am in the young at heart on almost every category! You must have mentored me well. The only one I see both sides of equally is the creation entry. Clearly the earth will no longer exist, in say, 2 billion years when the sun burns out, but we should do everything we can to protect that which gives us, and shares with us, life.
God bless Rick, as you, and all of us, continue our own spiritual journeys.