A HARD LOOK IN THE CHURCH MIRROR...
Is there a new generational gap developing in the church?
The head pastor of the church assumed his rightful place in front of the congregation with his hymns, his coat and his tie. The older folks felt right at home. The music was just right, not too loud, not too rushed. The sermon was just right too, not too confrontative.
No sooner than five minutes after the more traditional service the pastor, like Superman in the phone booth, jumped into the back room and came out as the handsome, casually dressed super preacher who could now "relate" to the younger, cutting edge crowd (as if the Gospel needed his help).
Personally, I found this a bit... silly.
Catering to an older aged crowd according to their preferences and then to a younger aged crowd according to theirs I believe is leading some churches to a place where they will not want to be. A place where one aged member would not even be able to worship in the same room with the other aged member due to such extremely different tastes in worship style and appeal. This is fertile ground for growth of a generational gap, and even worse, a divided church.
Many older folks in a church are hesitant to say things to young people when they see them dress in an inappropriate way, pierce themselves or make sinful lifestyle choices. They don't have the relationship where it could be done without misunderstandings and argument. Usually the youth pastor must try to deal with or ignore these issues.
Another problem area is in the worship. Many young people will walk out of a church service where there was no drama, "the right kind of music" or a flamboyantly delivered story, resulting in totally missing the life changing words to some great old hymn or a Spirit driven message from the Lord.
The Bible requires interaction between the older and the younger. Consider the charge given to the older women to teach the younger women to be submissive to their husbands, to be keepers at home so that the Word of God is not maligned? When was the last time that was taught to young women by the older women? Also, Timothy, as a young pastor, was told to be an example to the older folks in word and deed. Paul instructed us to not rebuke an elderly man harshly. The younger rebuking the older? Yes, if done properly. But how can these things take place when there is very little or no interaction between the two age groups? They can't.
I have found that most young people are hungry for involvement from the older folks. They are starving for the guidance they offer. Sometimes older folks get self-centered when they don't involve themselves with the younger and the younger get misled without the same. A strong, well balanced church will and must have close interaction between the older and younger. Today's evangelical churches would benefit greatly by finding ways to cross over the gap developing under the surface. Larger churches have to work even harder at this.
Here are some small suggestions to help:
You could bring an elderly mature christian into your Sr. High Sunday School class to give their testimony. Pass a prayer request sheet to your Jr. High kids and give the list to a senior adult class and ask them to pray for the kids. Get a group of kids together and visit a convalescent home. Visit them at Christmas time and sing them some carols. There are hundreds of ways that we can bridge the generation gap. Don't let your pastor strive to do it on his own, trying to be Superman. That would be silly, to say the least.