Article: Generation Gaps… In the Church

generations11 Timothy 5:1-2 Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; (2) The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.

Titus 2:1-6 But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: (2) That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. (3) The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; (4) That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, (5) To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. (6) Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.

There is a family dynamic to the New Testament church. We are not only a body of believers, but members of God’s family because of the new birth. The Bible then teaches us  how to treat each other in this church family: the elder men as fathers (if at least old enough to be your father), the elder women as mothers (same rule), the younger men as brethren and the younger women as sisters (with all purity).

Paul then tells us in his epistle to Titus that the behavior of elder Christians is to serve as a living lesson to those who are younger, thus illustrating and enforcing “sound doctrine.” The aged men are to be “sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.” Why? Because younger men are to learn from their example. “Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.”

gener_gap-wzpiuhThe aged women are to “be in behaviour as becometh holiness… teachers of good things.” Why? “That they may teach the young women.”

Young men and young women are to look to their elders for an example. Technology, fashions, hair styles, etc, change for better or worse in every generation – but Biblical truth does not.

What has happened? We have allowed generation gaps in our society. Breakdowns in the family unit through divorce and migrating families have caused many kids to grow up without knowing and loving their aged relatives (ie, Grandma and Grandpa). Sending the kids to the public school at age 4 or 5, or daycare sometimes within months of birth, has caused many kids to grow up separate and independent from their parents. Many kids are far more influenced by their peer groups in the world than their parents or their church. At home, these gaps are widened by uninvolved and uninterested parents and a lack of family togetherness. Even when in the same house, many are never together; even in the same car, it is likely that no one is talking together. Many parents know almost nothing about their teenagers. They have almost nothing in common except their address.

What has happened in the church? Many young people are never around their elders in the church. When I got saved, the young man who brought me to church had a habit every service of going around the church and greeting everyone, but especially the senior saints. So I would join him. Those white-haired saints were a blessing to us and I believe that we were a blessing to them. Many of them were a great influence in my life as a young man who needed to be more “sober minded.” My wife, a bus kid, was similarly blessed by the influence of the godly women in the church. We all sang the same songs. We listened to the same sermon. We used the same altar. We rejoiced in the same victories.

The popular trend today is for churches to have generational services, based on age and/or music/worship style. To keep the older folks around, they have a “traditional” or “classical” service (always the early service; the younger generation doesn’t like getting up early, not for church anyway).  Then, they want to reach the middle aged crowd so they will then have a soft rock service. Then, something else for the “Millennials,” and something still different for the teenagers. And since many only meet on Sunday mornings or Saturday evenings, that’s it for church. It’s everyone for himself – and the generation gaps widen. Almost everyone is with their peers, and few are with their elders.

Christianity is timeless and ageless, not generational. It does not change every twenty years. God knew what He was doing when He told us to learn from aged men and women – not push them into a corner, or into a 5 am service so that they don’t hinder the “progress” of the church. It is the attitude of a generation with little use, love or respect for their elders. In fact, many in this generation are openly disrespectful to and about their elders. Such will never learn from them.

I suggest that we get back to the Bible. I suggest that we find ways to get our kids and our elders together in church. I suggest that instead of custom designing worldly services for certain age brackets, that we return to the proper elements of Biblical worship – which will cross all generational lines with timeless truth.

Thank you for reading. God bless.

About James Rasbeary

I am the pastor of the Lighthouse Baptist Church in Wylie, Texas. Check out my blog at www.broraz.com.
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