The Counseling Corner
By Rev. Judith T. Lester, B.Min. M.Th
Most churches are struggling with the problem of the generational gap. It is incumbent that churches address this issue because it is a real one. As the gap widens, it will continue to drive away talented and gifted young people and progressive thinkers. The key is to recognize there is a gap and then take steps to begin closing the gap. Many suggestions have been offered, however, Thom Rainer’s Bridging Generational Gaps in Churches proposed some practical and attainable suggestions:
• Intentionally invite older, long term members to attend church’s membership class. This way you can introduce older members to newer members. Older members can assist by telling some of the church history. Not only will the new members appreciate the older members but the older members will be reintroduced to the church’s vision and doctrine.
• Include testimonies in worship service. Church members know the testimonies of only a few of their members; but there is a large number of people whose stories others do not know. This problem can be corrected by inviting selected members to share their testimony during worship service and be sure to vary the generations.
• Start a cross-generational prayer ministry. Unite the youth and young adult ministry with senior adult ministry by connecting prayer partners from each generation. Imagine the results when senior adult members are linked to a younger woman and they pray for each other. You have no choice but to get to know the member and their families.
• Start a grand-parenting ministry. This ministry recognizes there are older members in churches whose children have moved away and young families who live a distance away from their parents and grandparents. What they have in common is both miss their families. Developing a grand-parenting ministry brings these groups together to support one another.
• Run a multi-generational book club for women, allowing members of each generation to take turns selecting the next book. Be sure to select times for meetings that are convenient for working mothers.
• Develop multi-generational small group bible study. This can consist of a short-term Bible study group, topical studies on areas of interest to women, or leadership groups. Regardless of the type of group, plan times of teaching and fellowship to facilitate relationships.
• Do social ministry together. Young people want to do hands-on, relevant, transforming ministry. They want to feed the hungry, stand up for those who are caught up in human trafficking, and other social justice issues.
• Mentor a younger woman and encourage her to mentor someone else.
• Appoint a young adult leader to oversee the senior adult ministry. Why? It brings the generations together. Seek a young adult or middle-aged woman who can lead and learn from the older believers. When generations learn from each other, the church will be stronger.
Next week: Bridging the generational gap – conclusion
The writer does not assume responsibility or liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred in any way for readers’ efforts to apply, rely or utilize information or recommendations made in these articles. Rather, the objective is strictly informative and educational. If you would like to contact Rev. Lester, write her c/o P.O. Box 121, Brookfield, WI. 53008.