Thursday, February 17, 2005

intergenerationalism

my dad's comment on my recent post on technology, and his subsequent post got me thinking more about the intergenerational church. Now, this is a dangerous topic for one whose father makes up a significant percentage of her blog audience and happens to be something of an authority on the subject, but here I go anyway. Chalk it up to the rashness of youth.

younger churches and church members are frequently known to trumpet technology as a way of enhancing worship and community (indeed, I am frequently among them). My dad pointed out, though, that this kind of embracing the possibilities of new technology often alienates older members of the community. Indeed, my church is very tech-savvy and postmodernist-oriented, and it has few members over 50.

But the real issue I want to raise is this: whose responsibility is it to bridge the generation gap? Everyone seems quick to foist the responsibility onto other parties, and to generalize the attitude of "the youth" or "the old people" in less than generous terms. I think the nairobi statement affirms that worshiping together as an expansive body of beleivers - across generations and even across history - is good. But how do we reconcile cultures that are sometimes divided, if you beleive Brian McLaren, along philosophical/cultural lines? This gets even more complex when we realize that I know 20-year-olds who prefer the absolutism of modernist thought, and also postmodern thinkers who want to return to traditions far older and simpler than the ones our grandparents grew up with, and also 50-year-old bloggers, and older people who think about the effective ways to use technology in church.

My postmodern sensibilities suggest that we need to set elements from all these preferences and sensibilities and personality types next to each other, celebrate the diversity and try to learn from the best of everything. But my experience tells me that some people will go to St Nick's antiochian, and some people will go to LaGrave and some people will go to Centrepointe, and we'll all be happy with that, and our various levels of connectedness with history. The "we" I'm imagining don't always attend the same church as each other, and if they all did, it would be way too many people to foster real relationships. So, then, what do we do? I don't know, but I'll think about it some more and let you know. Or maybe my dad will tell you.

1 comment:

Beth Van said...

I completely agree with this thought. Living in a predominantly college age town brings the congregation to a younger generation and there are more and more churches directing all prospects to this younger generation. for those of us who grew up with the ideals of the older generations it's hard to watch the technology of the era break into sermons and what not. at the same time it does bring in a new crowd to the church and to God. So in all reality it could be a toss up as to what direction a church should go but i think at this point there should be some kind of harmony bridging the generational gap. Or valley in some cases.