There have always been disagreements between the generations. The older generation feels like the younger generation is too immature to understand what life is about, and the older generation has been stuck in doing things by the routine of what they know.
We do know that knowing God is a generational event. In other words, every generation has to find God for itself, it cannot know God just because the previous generation did. We see that in the history of Israel and how the kings were good in one generation and bad in the next. In the days of Joseph, things went well for Israel, but generations came up who forgot who Joseph was and what he did for Egypt, and they enslaved Israel. So, things change from generation to generation and some changes are good while others are not … such is life.
However, I do think multi-generational congregations are healthier for the church as a whole for several reasons:
1. Young people see things differently. They see the world for the first time with fresh eyes that focus on vision and how things could be better. This freshness is how change can take place and a healthier ministry outcome can be achieved.
2. Older people have the experience of what doesn’t work and can guide the freshness of new ideas into focus so that those ideas can change structures, attitudes, or even the direction of a stale and outdated ministry.
Generations need to respect this process of visions and dreams. In fact, God says that in the last days multi-generational teamwork would be the norm:
Acts 2:17 And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.
Spirit uses gender and uses the young and the old. No one is excluded from the outpouring of God’s Spirit. Isn’t this the beauty of God? He doesn’t restrict any people from being a conduit for His Word. God’s purpose is to reach everyone and to reach everyone, He has to use everyone to accomplish it:
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
Yet, revival is generational. God moves upon people whose desire is to know God, but if that generation is not challenged to pursue a relationship with God, then any revival that preceded it will end in that current generation. Remember the lists of kings in Israel’s history? How many of those kings sought the Lord? Maybe twenty percent? The majority of Israel’s kings did not seek God … instead, they pursued relationships of power from the nations that surrounded them. They wanted longevity in power, and they sought relationships with surrounding nations and worshipped the gods of those nations. They compromised everything they had with God … for the chance of staying in power.
When I came to Christ it was the era of ‘flower power.’ The hippies of the sixties and early seventies were ripe to do something completely different than what their drug generation was selling to them. People were looking for some kind of change that didn’t mirror pot smoking and free love. They were looking for love, but not the free love of Woodstock and the empty promises of a new world based upon LSD trips and marijuana. For a time, I was caught up in the mindset of this new world … a world where people were motivated by love, not money. Thousands of ex-hippies strolled into churches across the country and many churches were stunned by their presence. Many churches rejected these new seekers because they were not people from their culture. This rejection drove them to start their own churches … with music they liked, dress they were accustomed to, and preachers who spoke their language. As much as some in the church rejected these new arrivals in the Kingdom, some of these new arrivals arose in subsequent years to lead the church away from tradition and to a fresh new form of worship. Gone were the organists, choirs, music directors, and in came the worship teams, drums, and lots of loud contemporary music. Church was changed forever, and this new generation had a dream to reach people … not through tradition and form, but with the expression of heart and the transformed ideas of a life devoted to Christ and His message. The Vineyard and Calvary Chapel churches were formed in this time frame, along with the Jesus People USA movement from the Midwest. Parachurch organizations like Jews for Jesus, Hillsong, and contemporary Christian music all came into being because of the revival across the younger generations of that day.
Will it happen again? Good question. Many Christians pray that it will, and hope that a revival on that scale will happen again. Yet, only God chooses when and where the next move of God will take place. All true revival starts with God, and it begins when His people have a desire to pursue Him at the expense of personal gain and acclaim.
Each generation must decide its fate with God by pursuing Him or ignoring Him. If we ignore Him like the Apostle Paul records in Romans 1, then the hope of seeing revival is lost. Revival will only happen as each generation wants revival. If the God conscience is lost to the cultural influences of our day, we will lose any chance of influencing this generation. Each generation must find for itself the reality of knowing God. If this generation doesn’t have the witness, nor is encouraged to pursue God, we will lose another generation to the foolishness of personal pursuits in exchange for knowing the living God.
That is why the next generation needs to be important to this generation of Christians. Without a shift from us to them, they will wander to other places that will not give them a chance to even consider a God-consciousness.
Take some time to pray for this generation and ask God for a burden in your own heart for the young people in your life and for their need to know God in a way that transforms them into new people hungry to know God, and to make Him known.
Challenging the Culture with Truth … Larry Kutzler