A New Church Truth: the lie of the generation gap

Often in the church, a gap emerges, a “we” and “them” dynamic, a “modern” versus “traditional” dualism that leaves many people isolated and lonely, the church hurting in unnecessary ways.

The truth is, that gap is rooted in a lie.

The generation gap exists because we created it to bear itself down on us, to impose a rule of restriction over our natural need for community.

The younger avoid the older, so much that we find it most difficult to cross into uncharted territory, to join in the other service, to sit at a new table, to even say hello.

One day, not long after we first moved here, we ventured across downtown shops and busy streets with Debra, and ate at Chic Fil A. She held Eliot’s hand and ushered him into the bright red and white building.

She bought our lunch and gathered at the table with us, helping Eliot with his chicken and fries while Isaiah hunkered down with some apple juice in his stroller.

Then we left, journeying back downtown to explore a community garden and local park.

“We don’t have grandchildren, so we’d love to borrow the boys sometime!” she said while we walked.

We continued on, nearly arm in arm, the kindness of community becoming more apparent by the hour. It’s Debra loving on a young mother and her two boys, and a young mother asking for a friend for her family.

The boys go to Debra and Scott’s home some mornings, and it’s another Grandma and Grandpa, another experience of inter-generational kindness and love.

The generation gap we’ve created tells us that these moments aren’t possible, that young people can’t put down our iPhones long enough to make any eye contact, and that someone like Debra just won’t seem to understand.

If there’s any pressing responsibility for the church today, it’s to bind this lie. 

Because young mothers have forever been in need of mentors and friends to lighten the load, and parents and grandparents have forever been loving on their kids and grandkids in beautiful ways.

The truth of the space between generations is that it exists in order for us to teach each other something. The difference in years between us is for both our benefit, a holy design that’s lasted years and years before our time.

It was Ruth and Naomi, fighting for each other in grief and healing. It was my Grandma, gathering us to the kitchen to make blackberry pie.

It’s my mom holding my boys and reading to them.

It’s David and Jeanie bringing us into their home for an entire day while Travis is out of town.

It’s our neighbor and Eliot’s best friend, Suzan, driving hours and hours to spend one weekend with us.

And it’s Scott and Debra, reminding us week after week that they see us and are for us, and that these spans of years between us only add to the Kingdom’s good diversity.

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We are all gathered at that well, we are all surrounding and surrounded by that good and holy water that beckons us to Spirit and each other.

Hallelujah, for a diverse and truth-filled Kingdom.

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