This post is a part of the Dancing Jesus: Mentoring in the Church blog series that will be ongoing through the month of September. You can read about the series and view the schedule here. You can subscribe to all of the posts here.
Chris Tomlin ruined everything.
Ok, maybe not Chris Tomlin exactly, but I know of several churches that have had the great debate over contemporary worship music versus hymnals. Do we transition over and attract more young folks? Will those with grey hair leave if we replace “A Mighty Fortress” with David Crowder’s “Here is Our King”? Can we blend the two and make everyone happy? If we do a hybrid, where do the fog machine and strobe light fit into the mix?
Now, I’m not a theologian, or a seminarian, or any of the other things that would make me sound like I know what I’m talking about. But I am an observer. And one of the things that I have found in many church circles is a massive generational divide. And I fear that it may be growing.
If your church has a contemporary service with an average age of 29 and a “traditional” service with an average age of 72, you may have a problem.
The Bible speaks to us about relationships between generations. Right after the Lord spoke to Moses about his death, Moses gathered the entire assembly of Israel and taught them a song about their deliverance as the Lord commanded. The song was to be a witness to all of Israel that the Lord was present in their times of trouble and that by His word He would be faithful to them as He had been to the elder generation. This is a song of true redemption.
I love verse 7 of the Song of Moses:
Remember the days of old, consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you (Deuteronomy 32:7).
What a powerful command! We are called to live out a faith based on the word of a God that we can not see. We are asked to trust Him with the unknown. And we are called to sacrifice all that we have and submit all of our will for a promise that was spoken long ago.
How do we do that? I think that the Song of Moses, a song of redemption written for a rebellious people, tells us.
We need to ask our fathers and our elders to explain it to us. The Israelites were told to share this Song with the next generation, who would need to be reminded that, even though following the Lord could get difficult, He would deliver. They needed to remind the next generation that they had been slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt and that they had been set free.
And we need our elders to remind us that when things are difficult, when our children are rebelling, when our marriage is hurting, when our job has been lost, that God is still good. He worked in their generation though wars, and the Depression, and difficult relationships, and He will continue to work in our generation. We need our elders to remind us that we were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt and that we have been delivered.
Sometimes I think that we make mentoring complicated. Or at least more complicated than it needs to be. Certainly there is value in developing a structured, transactional relationship between a mentor and a mentee. That can be very mutually beneficial. But sometimes being mentored can be as easy as being present.
We need to be intentional about placing ourselves in the presence of the older generation (even if it means attending the traditional service once in a while). We need to learn from them and allow ourselves to be mentored by their wisdom and experience. We need to hear their redemption songs.
Nicole is a professional counselor and the wife of a recovering addict. She believes that her personal experience has been a far greater teacher than any textbook or on-the-job training. Despite all of the ups and downs in their 10 years of marriage, God has been faithful. Nicole believes that her life with her husband, Jesse, is her greatest gift and most exciting adventure. And she wouldn’t trade it for the world!