As I look back on my life and consider the significant and important role of generational community, there are many people and circumstances that come to mind. And many of them have impacted me.
I remember when I was a child going over to my grandparents’ house to wash their car, dig trenches, and prune berry bushes all to earn a few bucks. In the process, I broke shovels, planted my grandpa’s precious fruit tree wrongly, and got caught texting while I was supposed to be digging dirt. But these opportunities helped me grow so much and gave me the time to really know my grandparents.
I learned many things from their instruction, but I also learned from their example.
Yes, I grew in things like work ethic and discipline, but more importantly, my grandparents showed me what a faithful and consistent relationship with the Lord looks like.
The church, as a family, has a similar opportunity to have deep relationships where we can impact one another by both instruction and example.
There were countless times when working that I heard my grandpa singing hymns to the Lord. This showed me that worship is in everything.
Every lunch break we would read a Bible verse, talk briefly about it, and pray. This showed me that Christ should be at the center of everything we do and every conversation.
My grandma would always be the one to ask us if we needed anything (mostly beef jerky, orange juice, or granola bars). This showed me what hospitality and what care could look like.
Into my high school years, my siblings, cousins, and I did a Bible study through the book of Romans with my grandpa. It lasted around 3 years and it showed me that it’s okay to have questions about God. It also showed me that God wants to help us through those questions.
There are countless ways that the lives of my grandparents affected me and my faith. This is what a community of generations will bring. The church is the family of God. We are to treat one another as a family would.
Consider what Paul says in 1 Timothy:
“Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.”1 Timothy 5:1-2
This is encouraging us to love one another with consideration to our ages and roles. What if the generations of the church would come together in love and unity to build one another up?
The opportunity is before us.
But, as with any and all relationships or institutions, we can easily focus too much on what we need, want, or expect rather than what we are called to be and to do.
The church is not exempt. How many times have we complained about what things are like or what they should be? We far too easily lose sight of the mission of the church and focus on the mess.
We should walk in humility as we consider how we can be a community of generations.
To the men and women of the church, Paul says:
“Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.”Titus 2:2-5
May we be a multigenerational church community marked by this godly character. We desperately need one another.
Older generations––the church desperately needs and loves you. We need to hear your stories of trials and suffering and of how God has delivered you, saved you, and protected you. We need you to instruct us in the truth of the Bible. We need help discovering God for who He is and show us how to live faithfully for Him. We thank you for your love and faithfulness. We know the Lord has taught you many things and grown you into who you are today. We need you to continue to walk in a manner worthy of the calling of Christ.
Younger generations––the church desperately needs and loves you. With Jesus’ love and humility, we need you to serve and lead in that service. We need you to grow in your knowledge of God, accurately handle the word of truth, and entrust what you have learned to others. We need you to continue in the faith. Encourage those around you and those older than you.
We need to do this together–old and young.
As I mentioned in the beginning, I broke many of my grandpa’s tools, I didn’t do all of my homework for Bible study, I texted on the job, but through it all, my grandpa demonstrated love and patience with me. He knew I would make mistakes, but he loved me as Christ loved him, and for that, I am so grateful.
These lessons you don’t learn through studying more or praying harder, you learn them through relationships.
Paul challenges us in Ephesians 4 by saying:
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.Ephesians 4:1-3
This is our charge. We are different in years, but here together to live out God’s purposes through the Holy Spirit in love and unity.
On my grandpa’s last leg of life on this earth, I saw and heard him share Christ with nurses, watched him have joy in his suffering, and charge the family to walk with the lord. This showed me that Christ was the central love of his life.
This continues to challenge me to imitate him as he imitated Christ.
This is generational community.
This is what we can be as the church family.