Let’s be honest: connecting people of different generations is not the easiest thing to do. We face obstacles like core values being different, older people being intimidated or frustrated by the younger generations, younger people not feeling the value of having an older person in their life…to either generation not knowing how to connect with the other. There are ways we can help with these things (for more on that see chapters 7 and 8 of this book), but there is another issue that is just as obvious – if not more. We just don’t talk about it as openly.
Younger people are desperate for an experience they know is Divine. Of course not all desire this, but many just want to experience God, walk with Him daily, be a part of what He’s doing and be used by Him. Sure, experience based pursuits can be incredibly dangerous if they are separated from truth. But experiencing God can also be rooted in truth. And this is what I find many college age people seeking.
And herein lies the problem. It seems like there is a lack of older adults that authentically experience God – daily. Many of them, if you ask them directly, have a hard time pointing out anything specific they feel like God is teaching them or working on in their life today. Some can’t explain their own testimony of how and why they personally decided to follow Jesus – or why they do today. Much of this is due to, and in some ways this will be an over simplification, older generations not being experience based. They can know scripture, be grounded in doctrine, etc. but as I talk with more and more pastors working with older adults the lack of experiencing God in their lives is a huge issue.
Bridging these generational values together (a high value on experience with a high value on intellectual knowledge of Scripture) is what’s needed. But if these tensions aren’t helped the differences actually hinder sustainable mentor/disciple making relationships. And, I’m not okay with that. More to come…