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5 Keys To Cultivating Inter-generational Relationships

This past week I taught a couple seminars at the Orange Conference.  I love this conference.  I've had the chance to teach there the past few years.  I love how people from senior pastors to children's ministry volunteers are all coming together to prayerfully seek a unified, cohesive approach to ministry.

I've written about these in books, but in my Friday seminar I discussed 5 values churches need to embrace, promote and protect in order to cultivate inter-generational relationships.  We can get people from different generations to sit in the same room, but this doesn't mean they are "connecting."  So, I discussed the following values and key points necessary if we are truly going to help people from different generations connect with one another in a local church context:
  1. Value of Difference.  We must help everyone embrace their unique differences, but also value the differences of others (personality, giftedness, etc) to the point where they intentionally pursue people that are different.  We must show this value in words and structures.  My key point for this was: Start with structuring to promote diversity and affinity will naturally happen.  Start with structuring around affinity and you will lose a value of diversity.
  2. Value of Responsibility.  We must help older believers understand their responsibility to invest in younger people.  We cannot consider ourselves successful in ministry if we don't focus on this.  My key point for this was: Faithfulness in ministry must include holding people to the standards of scripture.
  3. Value of Family.  We cannot alienate people by language.  When we speak of "family" we ought to focus on our theological family rather than nuclear structures so that we do not alienate singles, college age people, or children who unwillingly find themselves in a broken home.  My key point for this was: Healthy nuclear families are not an end, they are a means to an end.
  4. Value of Others.  We must help people embrace the call of the gospel to focus on others, first.  If people think their faith is about them they will then think the church exists for them and thus will not interact inter-generationally unless they feel like it benefits them.  My key point for this was: A gospel-centered person seeks to give community to others, not seek it for themselves.
  5. Value of Quality.  We must begin finding ways to measure quality of relationships.  We typically only measure quantitative elements in ministry.  Churches that are helping cultivate inter-generational relationships are finding ways to measure quality.  My key point for this was: Measuring quantity is not necessarily a sign of success for spiritual leaders.

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