Church Culture & the Generational Divide

Yesterday I came across two posts from Karl Vaters that speak to the generational divide that I first mentioned a few weeks ago, under “Church Culture and Church Planting”.

In the first post, he surveys the conflicts between younger and older believers and urges mature Christians to step up and become the models that younger Christians need, to cease destructive behaviors and begin working toward a healthier culture.

1. Stop Isolating, Start Engaging

We won’t be heard if we refuse to participate. … We can’t lead, guide and help younger generations if we’re cutting ourselves off from them during the time the entire body should be getting together.

2. Stop Complaining, Start Encouraging

No one will open themselves up to learn from a person whose default response is to complain about everything. … If you want to have influence start by being an encouragement. 

3. Stop Demanding, Start Equipping

If you’re a mature believer, you need to act like one. Show up at church to serve, not to be served.  Put yourself in a position of influence by becoming the servant Jesus calls all of us to be.

In a follow-up post, Vaters gives three practical suggestions for how mature Christians can implement this new attitude.

1. Meet Them Where They Are

Elders need to be willing to meet today’s youth on their turf instead of demanding that they come to ours. 

Start by serving, not demanding.

Living and walking along with them, not just talking at them.

This means listening before speaking. Really hearing what they are going through.

2. Be Worth Listening To

We need to behave like elders worthy of honor. Living lives that people want to emulate. Following Jesus with such joy, passion and hopefulness that others can’t help but be drawn to him.

If you have a hard time finding young people who want to be mentored, seriously ask yourself this question. Are you behaving in a way that is worthy of being honored? Are you truly setting an example to follow? Not just in (self)righteous behavior, but in selfless generosity and humble teachability. …

As elders, it is not our job to convict of sin or correct their behavior. That’s Jesus’ job.

3. Help Them Be Like Jesus, Not Like Us

The goal of an elder or a Christian mentor is not to help the next generation become more like us. It’s to help them become more like Jesus. …  Becoming like your elders isn’t discipleship, it’s mimicry. Repeating their habits and behaviors isn’t growth, it’s going through the motions.

When elders become more like Jesus, we show those coming behind us how to do it too. Then, when they become more like Jesus, they’ll challenge us to keep growing even more. Each serving and blessing the other in an upward cycle of faith.

A servant will always become like their master. But an elder isn’t a master. An elder follows the Master, and helps others follow him, too.

These are GREAT articles, worthy of every church leader’s attention and consideration.  Check them out, and read them in their entirety; these excerpts don’t do them justice.

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