Monday, January 21, 2008

When Fear Is An Obstacle To Intergenerational Fellowship

God blessed me with a gracious providential gift today when David and I were visited by Mike Garrett and Dr. Gerald Bray as they returned from an ordination service in Johnson City, TN. Dr. Bray was one of my professors in seminary. He is an Anglican with a brilliant theological mind and charming personality. As we talked we got on the subject of intergenerational fellowship. As an almost 60-year old single male I found his observations about this subject fascinating. One reason for this is that I think we generally assume that the primary obstacle to meaningful intergenerational fellowship is that younger people do not desire or pursue purposeful mentoring relationships with older adults. However, Dr. Bray challenged me to consider that perhaps older men and women are just as fearful of this kind of interaction as younger generations.

One barrier between older and younger generations, Bray observed, is that his generation is the first generation that has been confronted with the reality that younger generations are smarter than his generation. What he meant by this is that my generation (and even those younger than myself) are both - to a large degree - more educated (on average) and more technology-driven and literate than his generation. He believes this has promoted a great deal of anxiety in his generation leaving many older adults left to wonder whether or not they have anything significant to contribute to the life experience of younger generations. While it is certainly true that those who have walked with Jesus for generations do indeed have something to offer, they may not necessarily feel that this is the case.

While I'm not completely certain of what effect if any Dr. Bray's observation has on the lack of quality intergenerational fellowship in many Christian churches, the reality is that the kind of spiritual mentoring relationships described in the book of Titus between older and younger generations are virtually non-existant in many churches. If nothing else, his observation is at the very least something for us to consider as a possible obstacle to meaningful intergenerational relationships.


At 4:47 PM , Blogger Meredith said...

I think churches should do away with Sunday school classes determined by age or status in life (single, college people, young married people, old married people, etc.) At my church that I attend during school, we have classes with different topics. We usually always have a sermon discussion class which people of all ages attend. Then, there is one class that goes through a specific book of the Bible. Another class has been going through studies on the lives of Jeanne Guyon and Thomas Merton. We also had a class on marriage, but both singles and married people attended. The one class I attend is for women only, and that's enabled me to get to know several women of different ages in the church. I probably would have never met them if there had been a college and career class. So, I think that's the biggest help for churches wanting to build intergenerational relationships.

And Aaron, I must inform you that you have a dangling modifier in your post. "As an almost 60-year old single male I found his observations about this subject fascinating."

Surely you are not the almost 60-year-old single male...

;) Just had to do it. Mwahahaha...


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