Since my youth, God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation,
your mighty acts to all who are to come. (Psalm 7117-18 NIV)
Picking a thesis topic can be tricky. You want something that has plenty of research materials available but not so over done that you’re inundated with endless materials to be sifted and sorted looking for viable and valuable information. So I chose the topic of worship in the context of historical and modern churches.
I found, and continue to find, a great disparity from one generation to the next. Each feels they have the unequivocal answers to the church and are unwilling to waver in their stance. Whether we discuss the function of Sunday school, music, home visitation, preaching or prayer, each feels they have learned the true and only way to accomplish each ministry and have biblical verses to support their beliefs. Even though it sounds like a contradiction I think both sides are right. They are right to the extent of their vision.
We tend to be myopic when it comes to faith, music, and form of worship. I call this a time myopic. It has nothing to do with physical vision but with differences in time, culture and training. I’m no longer part of the younger generation but I look at my tastes and remember how my parent’s generation often questioned them. The case is still true but now it’s both ways. Those older think I’m being too modern and ignoring the faith they carefully imparted. I tend to see the next generation in a similar light. I think it’s an inherited condition passed along from generation to generation.
In order for the church to continue, without falling into dust and restarting every few decades, we need someone to mediate between the generations and generate continuity. We need someone to teach us how to be accepting of people from older and younger generations and to realize our present generation doesn’t have a corner on the market with the only acceptable answers. This is what I call Generation Mediation.
Older folks have a cache of wisdom they’ve gathered throughout their life. There we can provide answers before we try to invent a square wheel and discover they already tried and knew it didn’t work well. On the other hand the young folks thirst for newness and innovation opening new avenues of ministry at an exponential rate. The older generation can find something new to revitalize old ideas and make them effective and powerful.
The old folks have wisdom and experience. The young have new ideas and approaches. Just think of what could be accomplished with the melding of these two! We’d have new ideas tempered with wisdom to bring an ancient message of hope and grace to a world struggling to survive.
Old hymns were once new, unacceptable and the raging’s of young upstarts in the church. In the depths of their metered lyrics we find a sufficient and succinct theology of God’s love and grace. In new music there’s value, message, and impact. The message is still that same ancient message of God’s love and grace.
Old folks, we need to remember our youth and learn from the young folks what they are shouting to the world and how to appreciate its value to encourage them with the wisdom God provided. Young folks, stop tossing aside anything older then yourself and see God guiding you via the heritage available in older folks. You’ll find you can avoid some of their mistakes. Talk to each other young and old.
Generation Mediation – someone who works with older and younger generations to teach them each to learn from the other, understand and see the importance, beauty and usefulness of the other generations music, ideas, methods, etc. I think every church needs to find someone to fill this important post and stand in the gap between the generations to insure the church continues to present the timeless message of God’s grace and love to a continually changing world.