The Father in heaven wants desperately to see His children functioning as a true family.

Calling a Ceasefire: Mending the Generation Gap in the Church

by April Suits
12/10/18 Training and Events

If you’re at all connected with the Body of Christ in the Western world, you’ve heard the term fatherless generation bandied around quite a bit. The increase of single-mother parenthood has left many of our children without a compass and without the stability that a father brings to the home. While we see the societal consequences in the secular culture, the problem is both physical and spiritual in the Church. The painful truth is that we have divided society into two groups: the up-and-comers and the retirees (those who have already done their bit and should now sit back on a beach and wait for the end to come). This mindset is reinforced through American media in film, music, and advertising. Most notably we see the influence of age in hiring. It is much more difficult to find work, and indeed respect, in the marketplace today as part of the boomer generation or even those coming immediately after. Millennials, those born in the 1980s or 1990s, often blame the older generation for setting them up for failure, while the boomers and Generation X point out the poor work ethic and other failings of the younger crowd. This divide has led to a fatherless generation in the Church and in America at large.

As an “older millennial,” I have observed the schism between the generations surrounding me as I grew up in the church, serving in ministry from a young age. Retirement-age believers are offered a nice place to sit down and rest after their labors (read: get out of the way so the young and vibrant ones can take over). Not only have we failed to honor the older saints, we have brushed them aside, made them feel useless, and unwittingly robbed ourselves of input from those with experience and history in God. We are so busy charting our own course and having our own revelations that we have turned around to find that there is no one there to cheer us on.

The older generation is likewise guilty. The heavy handed dismissal of the young as being foolish or immature has alienated young adults even more so from the fathers and mothers in the faith that they so desperately need. Retirement-age believers have been shocked at the stylistic and moral choices of the younger generations, to the point of disgust. Nothing will so quickly close the listening ear of a young person as an exclamation of horror from a trusted adult at their confessions. And so the gap widens—the youth continue to stiff-arm any proffered guidance from those they feel judged by, and the older ones feel more and more disregarded and devalued.

Paul was right when he said “you have many teachers in the faith, but not many fathers” (1 Corinthians 4:15, paraphrased). Many of us love to share our insights, the newest revelation from God, the newest tool that will solve the Church’s problems. We all love to teach. But how many of us are willing to embrace the suffering and humility that Paul described in 1 Corinthians 4 to walk as true sons? The fathers of the faith were abused, beaten, and mistreated. The Corinthians Paul was addressing counted themselves great. But to be a father, mature in faith, one must embrace weakness, mistreatment, and humility. As sons, we also must imitate the lives of our fathers to grow up into family.

There is hope and a way forward for us; even better, there is a promise from God that “He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers” as the Day of the Lord grows closer (Malachi. 4:6). The day of Jesus’ return is nearer than ever before, so we can look with confidence to this promise, that the Lord will heal the generation gap, mend the hearts of the broken, and restore family in the house of God. An indispensable key we must take hold of in this hour is the spirit of humility. The older generation must embrace humility to close mouths and open ears—suspend rebukes and judgment—while the hearts of their physical and spiritual children learn to trust them. The younger generation must embrace humility to accept wisdom and correction, to listen and receive the stories of those with greater life experience and years of growth in God. This will not only spare us the mistakes of the past, but give us a platform to stand on for the future. With the escalation of political, economic, and social chaos in the earth, we as the Body of Christ must be a true body—not one that is divided by judgment and pride. Our humility will open the door for the sharing of experiences, new and old. The Father in heaven wants desperately to see His children functioning as a true family. When the Israelites strayed from God after their time settling in the promised land, there came a generation who did not know what the Lord had done for Israel in the past (Judges 2). The older generation did not tell them. This poverty of history with God led the entire generation into sin.

Oh fathers and mothers in the Church! Do not leave us without your example, without the stories that will save us from forgetting God. In this hour, we must hear the word of the Lord even more to survive as the Church in the intense days that are coming. Oh young adults! Do not dismiss and disregard your elders, depriving yourselves and your children of the love of a father which will give you firm ground to stand on. As He has mended the gap between us and Himself, the Lord desires that we walk in the ministry of reconciliation, which He entrusted to us to also reconcile the divide between father and son, mother and daughter (2 Corinthians 5). Grandfathers and grandmothers, we need you. Do not let us brush you off and alienate you. Children and young adults, your elders need you, too. Learn from and allow them to love you. Let them love you. Different generations have different technological advancements and styles, but the love of God is not hindered by the changing of tides and societal fads. A house divided against itself cannot stand, and the Church must stand together, encouraging each other more and more as we see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:25). Let us humble ourselves to receive from each other, so that we may share in the riches of God together.

In this hour, God is turning the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to their fathers (Malachi 4:6). Grow in discerning God’s purpose for your life, while bonding with like-minded believers through the Simeon Company internship, a training program for adults 50 and up. Join the Simeon Company, January 14–March 31 at the International House of Prayer of Kansas City. Learn more >>

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