Working Intergenerationally sounds hip and trendy. It is the dream of many congregations. Let’s get the old fogies and the young people together. The old wiser folks can teach and impart wisdom to the future leaders. And who knows maybe the young-ins can teach an old dog new tricks. This even excites me typing this on my iPad. Here is the problem. Each generation is miles apart in their beliefs, their view of the world and their understanding of truth and authority.
The Moral Compass Gap
Just some differences. As to not distract you trying to figure out which age group you fit into. Here is the breakdown of the categories.
Let’s start with an easy one before we progress too far.
Is lying morally wrong (percentage who say “yes”)?
Among engaged Christians the numbers are much higher – 77% Among churched Christians not much difference between them and those not connected to a church – 38%, unchurched – 37%.
Social media has created a culture that creative storytelling is more acceptable. We know people have created Twitter burner accounts to spread untruths, people don’t expect the media to research stories for accuracy, it is more important to get the story out than get the story right.
Even if it were legal, Christians should not use Marijuana recreationally?
Among engaged Christians the numbers are much higher – 63% Among churched Christians not much difference between them and those not connected to a church – 26%, unchurched – 18%.
Enough softball stuff, taking a deeper moral dive.
Is abortion wrong?
Among engaged Christians the numbers are much higher – 80% Among churched Christians not much difference between them and those not connected to a church – 37%, unchurched – 26%.
No matter what side you fall in the abortion issue, I think we can agree it is not an easy decision for a woman and we need to find a better way to minister to people dealing with the pain and shame.
Sex before marriage is morally wrong?
Among engaged Christians the numbers are much higher – 76% Among churched Christians not much difference between them and those not connected to a church – 25% unchurched – 14%. Now for moral elephants in the room:
Is homosexual behavior morally wrong?
Among engaged Christians the numbers are much higher – 77% Among churched Christians not much difference between them and those not connected to a church – 24%, unchurched – 13%.
(All of the statistics above come from Gen Z and the Barna Research group.)
Just looking at a common set of moral principles there is a clear and rapid decline generationally in our nation’s moral compass. These numbers clarify we have to tread carefully when leading Bible Studies across generations because we are not starting from a point of agreement. While engaged Christians as Barna Research calls them, do appear to align more closely, how many people in our congregations would fall into the engaged category? Many see regular church attendance as once a month. If you intend to reach across generational lines you have to be prepared for major push back on moral issues. Leading these discussions requires tact and sensitivity, but the opportunity for vital spiritual growth across generations is worth the risk. Do not lose heart God’s word never void but will accomplish its task. While the research seems to make our task a daunting one it is well worth the effort.
Let me give you a preview of what is coming next in this series.
Up Next week: The Challenge of Doing Intergenerational Ministry
“The challenge of an intergenerational church is often reduced to worship style, and it is honestly difficult to plan and lead a worship service that appeals to the tastes of 5 generations all at once. But that misses the point. The biggest challenge is not appealing to everyone at once — Jesus wants disciples, not fans. Instead, the challenge is finding ways for every generation to participate in the mission and vision of our churches.”
Barna Research Group, “Gen Z, The Culture, Beliefs, and Motivation Shaping the Next Generation,” 2018
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"For God can speak in one way, or in another, Yet man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night when deep sleep falls upon men, while slumbering on their beds."
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