When I had turned 18, had graduated high school and was ready to start my life.  That involved getting a job, finding an apartment, purchasing a car and having all the responsibilities that come with that.  Since I moved out of the town my parents lived, I was now in the city and experiencing a life that was different.  I could make all my own decisions and I was responsible for no one but myself.  It was the freedom I had been talking about and dreaming of for years.

At that time making money was the most important thing, supporting myself took precedence over a church I could belong to.  I was able to find one and I attended for a while but money became my ultimate God.  I stopped attending and continued working 1 – 2 jobs to support myself even after college and up until my wife and I were dating.  By this time I had moved a few times, found a regular Monday – Friday job and was able to again begin attending church.

When I finally found a church I could call home and began getting involved I noticed their seemed to be a lot of retired men and women attending.  There was a mix of both young and old, but the older folks kept to themselves and didn’t interact much with folks my age or younger.  At that point the last thing I wanted was some older person telling me how to live my life or what to do and that mindset continued for many years.

Since then I have been involved in a variety of churches and I have come to see the same thing.  The gap between young adults and senior citizen is widening year by year.  Somehow we have failed to connect both generations.  There is a bridge that needs to be built and yet I see very few trying to accomplish this.  I understand as young adults, we as men believe we have it all figured out.  We have all the answers and the last thing we need is someone telling us how to live our lives.  I am well aware, because I believed this to be true for myself.  I also understand from older folks, they feel they are intruding and have nothing in common with the younger generation.  Both sides have fears and it is those fears that keep the two generations from being united.

At some point late in my 30’s I began to see the foolishness of my thinking. I missed some wonderful opportunities to share in the life of an older man or couple and gain wisdom on how to conduct myself, raise kids and be a better husband.  My wife and I started discussing this and both agreed we need to find a couple or individuals who we could build relationships with and allow them to speak into our lives and provide us with insights and wisdom from their own life experiences.  So we began praying, I prayed continually God would connect me with the right man.  After several years and attempts to connect I am happy to say our prayers have been answered.  We have met an older couple and each week for over a year I have been meeting with an older man.  The times we connect with these folks are such good times and we feel as though we have benefited greatly.

We are still lacking in so many ways as a body.  There is so much to learn from those who have already been down those roads.  To sit and listen as they share about their lives, hear stories and understand life lessons experienced speaks volumes.   We are not too old to have them be part of our lives.  As younger men and women we need realize our foolishness in thinking we have our lives all figured out.  We may have had parents who failed us, hurt us and left us with wounds; however we can allow the love from God to be experienced through an older generation who needs to pour out their love on others.

Please know this those of you that are 50 and over, you are needed.  You may have no one in your life and yet there are younger people who need you.  You may feel like you have nothing to contribute, you will be in the way or you just aren’t able to relate.  You can relate in more ways than you know.  You have plenty to contribute, you have life experiences and you are needed to impact the future generations, even if you didn’t make good choices early on, you can use those as examples of wisdom learned.

My hope is the body will purposely find ways to break down the walls.  Create ways to engage both.  Ask retired men and women to help out in the Youth Groups, speak at events, serve, and pair them up with young couples about to enter into marriage and starting families. (You know they have the time).  Create ways for younger aged folks to celebrate and serve.  Invite them over to your homes for holidays, events at school or just to hang out and play games or watch a movie.

As I get older I don’t want to settle into a life of feeling like I am not important, valuable or have something to offer.  Part of the reason I stepped into the role of a Youth Pastor years ago was my love of kids and the energy they held.  That excited me and pushed me forward.  I have no plans to settle as I get older, but to find ways to continually invest in others, both young and old.  How are you helping to close the gap on the generations?

Comments
  1. jelillie says:

    This is so good and such a needed message in the church. The generations need each other yet in the church we have largely segregated ourselves by age group for ministry purposes.

  2. I am a minister who has worked in several different churches and ministered to different age groups. One of the issues that I saw at one church was that the “older” members kept saying, “we don’t want an age gap” and the younger couples would join the older in activities but when the younger group would invite the older group to game nights and the like they would never come!

    • Paul S says:

      This is something that is very common. The issue I see and bring up regularly is that the “older” members are calling on the “younger” members to be like them, but they don’t want to make the step to become like the younger members in any way. What the Church needs is to work toward an organization that both gives the “older” members what they are comfortable with and the “younger” members what they are looking for in a new church.

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