The Old Testament is full of examples of the older generation being told to teach the younger. You find it in Deuteronomy (esp the Shema – Deut 6). You see it in the Proverbs as the wise teacher imparts wisdom to his son (Prov 1:8). In the New Testament we see it in passages like Titus 2 and 1 Peter 5.
It is clear that the younger generation has a lot to learn from the older generation. That may have something to do with the command to stone rebellious children! (If God had given the command to stone rebellious adults, there would have been hardly anyone left when they reached the Jordan). I have always been amazed at how well our older members know scripture. Many of them have been serious students of God’s word for decades and have it in their hearts and minds. We have a lot to learn from them. The older members of our congregation certainly have wisdom in many other areas of life and can help mentor younger Christians. I think it is essential for our older and more experienced members to have contact with our younger members. There is a lot our teens and 20 somethings can learn. I know I could do a lot better job of encouraging that.
Dr. Ed Gray of Harding University Graduate School of Religion has an excellent curriculum that helps the generations better connect in order to improve our marriages. This is done with his “Marriage Mentoring – 12 Conversations” program. Have a look at this site and see if it is something your congregation would consider getting involved in. It is worth a look. I am not giving this shameless plug to get more publicity (due to the fact that my wife and I travel the country as a 4X8 foot larger than life sized “12 Conversations” banner). I am mentioning it because I think it is a great way to get the different generations talking and building bridges. I am sure through this, more than just marriages will be strengthened.
What other ways can we get our older people and younger people in conversation and fellowship in meaningful ways? Is there anything you have tried that has worked? I have seen LIFE groups of all ages and some of the same age (older members together or 20 somethings all together) and I see good and bad in both ways of doing it. I am wanting to find more opportunities for the generations to sharpen and love each other as they get to know each other.
Any ideas? What unexpected blessings have you found from getting these groups together?
Thanks for this post. You’re highlighting what I see as an important problem. I think this may be one of the dangers of having youth groups so separated from the rest of the church. I fear that we’re letting our young people be so separate that they never catch on that they’re supposed to be a part of things.
It’s obviously easiest to relate to people your own age, but we’ve got to suck it up and find ways to all work together. We had really good luck with home church groups. As a teen, I got very close to some of the older people in my home church group. We also had a program where each year, older members without young kids would sign up to be prayer partners with youth group members. I regularly got letters of encouragement and prayers from one older couple, and I’m still very close to them.
There are definitely ways to do this, and this is something we don’t need to put off until it’s too late.
I have briefly looked over that marriage mentoring material and it looks great, if you’ve got enough families to pull it off. We thought about it, but with so few older couples to do the mentoring, we couldn’t find a way to make it work.
Thanks for pointing these things out,
Hi Matt and thanks for visiting my blog. Steve Puckett and I direct a week of Bible Camp at Central Florida Bible Camp.
As far your post today, this is a most interesting issue. It seems churches at times can be on two extremes when it comes to the “perception” of focusing on youth or senior members.
I’m open for suggestions as well.