Does Style and Preference Divide the Church?

Kyle Reed // @kylereed

I have talked a little bit about the generational gap that divides young and old. Its a problem that I feel is facing the church today. Being someone who likes to add to the madness, let me throw out a couple of questions about this gap. First a story.

I was talking with a minister about this generational gap and the problems that it was creating at his church. He is a new minister to the church, he is young, and therefore changed some ways the church operated. This created some problems for the older generation (senior saints as they are called). The biggest issue was they felt left out and did not like the direction of the services and really the church. The minister decided to try and avoid this issue and hired another pastor to “minister” to the senior saints. As I listened to this story I could not help but see a problem. The problem is the creation of two churches in one building. In the churches haste to appease the complainers they created a divide in generations.

I do not want to get into the discussion of whether or not this is right or wrong. Mainly what I continue to wonder about is the role of each generation? My gut reaction to this situation is that the older generation is being selfish. Which really in turn means that I am being selfish.

Two questions that I had

Gap

1) Why is this generation making it about them?

2) Where is the sacrifice to help the next generation?

You can see the selfishness in all of this. Both sides are guilty. But I cannot help but wonder where the medium can be found? Is it a give and take thing, or does it truly come down to the fact that both generations are different and will have a hard time “getting along.”

Personally, I would really love to see sacrifice from both sides. I truly believe that mentorship is one of the biggest needs in the church today. Young mom and dads need help with parenting and marriage advice, college students look for life advice, and 30-40 something leaders are looking for leadership advice. What better place to look then to the generation that has gone ahead of us. I am just afraid that style and preference continues to divide.

Weigh in on this, what would you say?

*kyle

3 Week Course To Launching Your Blog

For a limited time this 3 week course is available to the first 25 people who sign-up. This 6 week course will guide you through how to set up a blog, write 25 blog post, and customize your look. This is a limited time offer made available only to the first 25 people

Kyle Reed

Posts Twitter

Kyle Reed is a connector looking to connect with others. A 20 Something that is blogging his way through life and looking to connect through community. Also a team member of the 8BIT Network and brand evangelist. Find me on twitter: @kylelreed, lets chat.
  • http://www.benlemery.com Ben

    I completely agree with you that mentoring is a key in this. It gets you out of the four walls, sets aside personal styles and allows two people to hear and listen to each other.

    One solution is food. Everyone seems to have good gatherings around food. Another is bringing up the elephant in the room. If you need two services to reach different audiences but then you have community events that brings them together, I am not opposed to that.

    This is a complicated issue though that needs to have more honest conversations.

    • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com Kyle Reed

      Food makes everything better.

  • http://www.ricianne.com patricia

    in a relay race…efforts have to come from both sides in order for the baton to be passed effectively so that the team will win.

    just something to think about.

    • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com Kyle Reed

      Good thought. And you are exactly right, it takes two to tango

  • http://manofdepravity.com Tyler

    I think this is a perfect example of how sinful we all are. Each of us deep down wants church to be about what we like and enjoy. The church always has and always will on some level be fighting this.

    • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com Kyle Reed

      You are right. I can imagine that when I am 60 I will be complaining about the “direction” of the church and the music. Tough to sacrifice your wants sometimes for the sake of others.

    • http://www.contentunderpressure.net Josh

      I completely agree with this. It’s an unfortunate truth.

      Things can change to help alleviate some of the fighting, but as long as we’re sinful people living in broken world, we will always participate (on some level) in a tug of war with our preferences.

      The bigger fear I have is that the gospel gets lost in the shuffle of trying to please everyone, which is impossible.

  • Shellie (baylormum)

    As I started reading this my thoughts went one way, but about halfway through I realized something that I learned in recovery. Part of it is the self-centeredness. In recovery, the most important person at any meeting is the newcomer. It’s that simple. No age, race, gender. ANY newcomer. (C)hurches that are focused on one group or another isn’t leaving any leeway for that person who walks into a church looking for something, but not sure what. It is not about me or my opinions. It is not about this service or that service. It is about showing that person the love that God has for me and them. It is about God’s grace. About His ONLY Son. And why He died. Being open-minded and compassionate toward our fellow human. Welcoming them with open arms. It’s how I would want to be treated.

    The church my daughter attended for a long time has 2 Sunday services. One is traditional, the other a little more contemporary. Sermon is the same. There can be something for EVERYONE. There has to be. We have to be ready every single day. Not with a buffet, but with the word & love of Jesus Christ.

    Now, this is a post!!

    • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com Kyle Reed

      I think you hit on something that I hoped someone would bring up. And that is the issue of a church service catering to the members or the visitors. What is the role members of the church play at the service? Is it about them? is it about non-christians?
      A lot of questions can come out of this.

      I know of a couple of churches that say they want to specifically reach out to non christians, yet their services reek of christianese and about the members not about visitors.

      • shellie (baylormum)

        And I am not looking for the “perfect” church (the kind with 4 walls & people), but until I find a church that is at least practicing that unconditional love toward “new” people, Christian or not, I will attend via the computer. Where no judgments are forthcoming. Where I am accepted. Comfortable. In my jammies! We are all broken. We help each other heal through living our lives as Jesus did. That’s one thing I have found in this new internet community. Honesty. Love. Open arms (so to speak).

  • shellie (baylormum)

    P.S. And now I am going back to listening to “The Outsiders”…..

  • http://www.daveingland.com Dave Ingland

    Kyle, this is a subject that may be difficult to find a solution for. Mainly because people on both sides–for the most part–want to be around people like themselves. I know of one church that took an elderly Presbyterian congregation to a place of change. They sold their church building and started gathering in the city hall on Sunday mornings. They brought in a worship leader that was a jazz musician and played Beatles’ songs Sunday mornings. They kept doing everything they could to invite younger generations into the church. The language and actions were all noble, but in the end, wishing for something to happen and doing what works can be an issue. The experiment failed. I wonder if it was because younger people wanted more younger people around them, even thought it is exactly what the elderly people were trying to do. Sad.

    They say that Millenials are the generation that at some point will look to their elders with respect and want to learn from them, rather than their peers. However, I think the older generations will not quite get that and keep trying to infuse their ministries with younger, hipper people.

    I talk a lot about culture in the church, and while it’s mostly in the context of ethnic culture I do realize that there are cultural issues between generations as well. I count it a blessing to have had an opportunity to speak on a Sunday morning at a church service in a retirement home during my time here in Portland so far. It was an experience I will never forget.

    • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com Kyle Reed

      I think you touched on something with your comment there Dave (and thanks for the comment) in the fact that the expectations seem to be very confusing. Almost like the conversation has never been there so everyone is confused on what role they are to play. It seems that the older generation (at least the people I talk to) are interested in this type of relationship, and the younger generation is looking, but no one is moving. Like a Jr High dance with guys and girls separated by the dance floor waiting for someone to make a move.

      • http://www.daveingland.com Dave Ingland

        “…Like a Jr High dance with guys and girls separated by the dance floor waiting for someone to make a move.” Perfect analogy! Sad, but true.

  • Pingback: Thoughts About Nothing « TLC4Women()

  • Kristina

    I agree with you. We both are at fault. Being only 21 I have a lot to learn from the older generation. I also think they have a lot to learn from us, or could learn from us if they just listened.

    My friends grandfather (everyone in the church calls him Pop) is that way. He yells at the young men from wearing their hats in the sanctuary or beinging food/coffee in there. He hates the music our worship band plays because its not just an acoustic guitar or piano. Its quite hilarious actually, but I think thats just the way they are and sometimes its easier to let it be that way then to get upset and argue about it.

    We need to pick and choose our battles and out of respect I choose to nod my head in agreement and walk away not saying a thing.

  • Kristina

    I agree with you. We both are at fault. Being only 21 I have a lot to learn from the older generation. I also think they have a lot to learn from us, or could learn from us if they just listened.

    My friends grandfather (everyone in the church calls him Pop) is that way. He yells at the young men for wearing their hats in the sanctuary or bringing food/coffee in there. He hates the music our worship band plays and voices his opinion openly. Its quite hilarious actually, but I think thats just the way they are and sometimes its easier to let it be that way then to get upset and argue about it.

    We need to pick and choose our battles and out of respect I choose to nod my head in agreement and walk away not saying a thing.

    • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com Kyle Reed

      I can see what you are saying. My grandpa can be the same way sometimes.
      But who does it benefit?
      I guess it gives him something to complain about, but it seems that people who like that kind of music that he does not like either have to stop to please him or nod their head in agreement to make him happy.

      I have had my grandpa tell me that he thinks that my playing drums at church is not worship. Does that mean I stop? No, I haven’t. I actually serve at several churches playing drums.

      Its a very tough place to be. That tension of honoring and listening to our elders is difficult. But having a close mind is hard to have any discussion.