With Our Moral Divides Is Intergenerally Ministry Even Possible?


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.


 Elders- The Silent Generation: Born 1928-1945 (73-90 years old)
  • Baby Boomers: Born 1946-1964 (54-72 years old)
  • Generation X: Born 1965-1980 (38-53 years old)
  • Millennials: Born 1981-1996 (22-37 years old)
  • Generation Z – Post-Millennials: Born 1997-Present (0-21 years old)

Let’s start with an easy one before we progress too far.

Is lying morally wrong (percentage who say “yes”)?

  • Elders – 61%
Boomers – 54%
Gen X – 50%
Millennials – 42%
Gen – Z 34%

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?

  • Elder – 44%
  • Boomers – 23%
  • Gen X – 22%
  • Millennials – 19%
  • Gen Z – 21%

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?

  • Elders – 40%
  • Boomers – 33%
  • Gen X – 38%
  • Millennials – 33%
  • Gen Z- 29%

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?

  • Elders – 22%
  • Boomers – 22%
  • Gen X – 26%
  • Millennials – 19%
  • Gen Z – 21%

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?

  • Elders – 41%
  • Boomers – 29%
  • Gen X – 32%
  • Millennials – 25%
  • Gen Z – 20%

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.[1])

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.”[2]

[1]Barna Research Group, “Gen Z, The Culture, Beliefs, and Motivation Shaping the Next Generation,” 2018



11 Comments on “With Our Moral Divides Is Intergenerally Ministry Even Possible?

  1. Mostly, it’s this, yes social media is one aspect of distorting the mind, but why aren’t parents filtering and limiting the use of social media or media exposure? Why do we trust the internet security more than our own morals and values within a home? It is humanity who has lost their own discipline. Just as the house of the church has gone out of its way to support social media (it does have advantages just as much as it has its disadvantages), but as leaders of a church, are we teaching for likes, comments, and numbers or teaching people to turn to God and not to to always turn to the church. God is God, we just use church as a space to worship, but God is in everything. Do we teach that?


    • We have become addicted as a generation to being liked. Unfortunately that is counter to living out your faith. Jesus was rarely “liked” because He challenges the sin, he challenged established religious leaders and he challenged Satan’s strongholds.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It really doesn’t matter what the data shows. God’s word does not change. His expectations of us morally are still the same. Immorality is sin in God’s eyes and repentance is needed, not data showing that so many people accept it these days. I’m sure that in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah, the people in the majority were those who were immoral. Majority doesn’t make things right in God’s eyes. He established his law for our benefit, so we should follow it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am would agree about the power of God’s word. The point of the data is if we start with the false premise we are all in the same place as we talk about faith we will alienate some, offend others and never get the chance to allow God’s word to be heard.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pastor Haney- I’ve often wondered about this so thanks for the definitive answer. Now I wonder what the split would be for these stats. David Jeziorski

    Sent from myPad



  4. Keith, Blessings on your day! Thanks for the focus on generations. I’d welcome a chance to visit more with you. The Church IS generational, by definition. WE (all ages) are the people of God! We have moved away from this fact and tried to communicate with generations separately and differently. “Kids Church”, contemporary services that assume the older are not interested, etc, break down our Intergenerational Body of Christ rather than build it up. We need more opportunities for people of all ages to celebrate, serve, and relate to each other, rather than fewer. We need to focus on getting the younger and the only within “ministry range” of each other so they can share, learn, encourage, and celebrate, rather than separating them more and more. Aging is the only way to live! Let’s help leaders and congregations model this reality…It’s called the Church – the Body of Christ!


  5. Pingback: The Key to Doing Intergenerational Worship – The light breaks through

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