I’ve had a unique window on the Christian world over the last 15 years.
From 1997 through 2005, when I was in my 30s, I was in a church where most of the people were in their 40s and 50s.
From 2005 to the present, when I’ve been in my 40s, I’ve been in a church where most of the people are in their 20s and 30s.
I’ve gone from being the youngest in a group of older Christians to being the oldest in a group of younger Christians.
Here’s what I’ve noticed.
1. Younger Christians have a better view of money. My age group was susceptible to the name-it-and-claim-it teachings and the Prosperity Gospel. Who didn’t want to believe God wanted them wealthy? It was an easy sell, but we were stupid to buy it. Younger Christians today have a more doctrinally sound view of money. They understand God is more interested in your spiritual growth than your wealth.
2. Older Christians have a better view of Biblical authority. With older Christians it was enough to rely on the Bible to speak with authority on a subject. Younger Christians, consistent with their postmodern paradigm, are not persuaded by authority per se and, unfortunately, that bleeds over into their view of the authority of the Bible.
3. Younger Christians have a better view of the problem of pain. Younger Christians approach the problem of pain more maturely than Christians of my generation did at their age. My guess is that younger Christians’ are more mature in dealing with pain because they’ve been exposed to more of it at a younger age, primarily through their experience with broken families, which for older Christians was the exception, not the rule.
4. Older Christians are better evangelists. Younger Christians are not as evangelistic as my age group. I suspect this again is a result of younger Christians’ postmodernism, which tempts them to view everyone’s experience as equally valid. On the positive side, this is also what makes younger Christians light years ahead of older Christians on the issues of race and diversity.
If there is a moral to this story it is this: community is essential to sanctification. We need to be around one another to become more like Jesus. And, If you are in your forties or fifties or older, don’t assume you can’t learn from younger Christians. GS