Written by Holly Terry
Reaching all generations together in the world that we currently live in seems to be a challenge. In my 35 years of serving in ministry, I have heard these famous words time and time again from our senior generation, “I have done my time and I am not sure what I have to offer to this next generation of ‘electronic’ kids.” As for the younger generation, they have no idea of all the amazing things that they can glean from our senior generation. We need to see this amazing opportunity to bridge this gap.
At our church, Bethel Life in Greenville, PA, we have such a great representation of all generations sharing their gifts and talents that God has given all of us. We are trying to bridge this gap in many areas of our church. One of the programs that I love most is on Wednesday night called, “Feed My Sheep.” It includes a mixed-age group who cook dinner for our teachers, helpers, and kids. This meal is actually part of our evening service. In our culture, eating at the dinner table feels as though it has become obsolete. We want to reintroduce this concept to our children. God stirred this idea in the heart of one of our seniors because of her love for cooking and the fact that families have little time to come around the table like she did as a child. During this time together, we teach the children to serve one another, pray for our meal and express thankfulness for those who prepared it, open conversations with each other and be patient to wait for others to finish eating, and learn to help clear the table before we are all dismissed to play. This is bridging the generational gap from ages 2 to 76 years old!
We have some other great areas of ministry that intentionally includes all generations. One of them is Carr’s Men. There are several men (of all ages – senior, young adult, and middle aged) who help people by working on their cars. We named this ministry after Bethel Life’s previous pastor, Rev. David Carr, who passed away on December 18, 2017. Another area of service that is amazing is our ministry to nursing home residents. One of the volunteers is a grandfather, and he often brought his young grandson along to show how to share the Word of God, pray over, and sing songs to the residents. The grandson eventually went off to college, and now the grandfather is bringing his great-grandson who is six years old to the nursing homes with him. This is bridging the gap!
I truly believe that when we are loving God and loving others, all ages should be together whenever possible. There are so many incredible opportunities for the older generation to impart hard-earned lessons to the younger generations through serving together, mentoring, and just being a part of each other’s lives. The beauty is that it works both ways; the older generation ends up learning and receiving just as much as they are giving to the younger generation.
My encouragement to all generations working and serving together is to remember what the Word of God says in 1 Samuel 16:7, “God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” There is something special that happens when generations come together. It shows that despite their differences, they can form connections and benefit greatly from one another.