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The Lost Generation

I’ve been sitting on this post for a while now, but I think we might be missing something that will impact the trajectory of the local church if we’re not careful and intentional about reaching and meeting the needs of all generations in our community.  Let’s face it, over the last 10-20 years the modern church as we know it has changed.  Churches have embraced a more casual, contemporary … which has been termed the “new traditional” style of musical worship, and have focused on reaching a younger generation.  Sometimes, well most of the time, we do this with good intentions expecting an older generation to understand and to accept change with open arms. But what happens if they don’t?

I am by no means saying that the church doesn’t need to focus on a reaching a younger generation, but I think the church needs to be careful at reaching a younger generation at the expense of loosing our older generation. Yes there are major difference in each generation. From the style & volume of the music, to the way we dress and talk, to the speed of our walk, we are different.  But that’s what makes the church so special.

Throughout scripture we see the importance of an older generation investing in a younger generation with the wisdom they have gleaned from their journey with Christ and life in general. We especially see this modeled in scripture as an older Paul urges and encourage a younger Timothy.

So what can we do? This is a great question, and one I think the church needs to be asking since we are on the embarkment of the Baby Boomers getting ready to enter into what we call a senior adult status.  I don’t know that I have all the answers but I think somethings can be done.  Here are some suggestions.

1. Create a Senior Adult Ministry

This can be led by volunteers or by a Senior Adult Pastor.  Senior Adults, like teenagers “know it all!” That’s not always a bad thing in this sense. They know what they like and what they don’t like, and many of the people they hang out with are like them.  Being able to have intentional ministry geared for Senior Adults can create opportunities that the church may be overlooking.  Yes, it takes time and effort, but so does the music, children’s, and student ministries of the church.

2. Create Opportunities for Senior Adults to be involved.

The reality for all of us is the this, we are down on the things we don’t know about.  Keeping Senior Adults involved in the life of the church creates a healthy dynamic where it’s not an us vs them mentality.  Some of my greatest youth workers were Senior Adults, and some of my greatest encouragers as a young Student pastor came from Senior Adults.  When we take the time to include them they can and will bless the ministry in huge ways with time, money and resources.

3. Create a Multi Generational Worship Culture.

This isn’t a “my way or the highway mentality”, and this isn’t the only responsibility of the Worship Leader who is picking songs …  it is a TEAM effort! Creating environments that reach a demographic or generation is nothing new.  As the church worships together on a weekly basis, there should be crossover from each of these ministries sprinkled throughout the Worship Service.  Many times when we think of this we think solely about the music, but hopefully there is more to your worship service than music.  Sometimes it can be as simple as recognizing an age group during a talk and speaking directly to them during a service. But it could also be a s simple as singing songs that seem to be tied to a generation in style, but beneficial to the entire church in message.

I admit that maybe this is just a mind dump post.  But these are the thoughts that have been on my mind lately as I transition into a new role in the church … moving from a Student Pastor to a Community Pastor. I do however think this is going to be something that the church has to address in the near future, or we may just in fact, lose a generation.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas of how we can begin to do this more effectively.

  1. Pat Whiteley
    June 9, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    Pastor Dan, I agree. The senior members have so much to offer. They are also seasoned with wisdom regarding what has worked, what doesn’t work and what upsets their generation. They are so willing to help. I have noticed that if we ask, they are happy to step up and serve. We must preserve this precious resource! I remember a little while back when Pastor Bob said that when you retire, you don’t retire from spreading the gospel. That is a lifelong directive from Jesus!

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