One of my favorite places to be on a Sunday morning is in Growth Track. This is where we share the core values of United City and help people get involved in the life of our church. I love being in Growth Track for many reasons, one of them is getting to answer questions people have about our church. “Where are the restrooms? What songs are we singing this morning? Why is the music so loud?” are all questions I have answered during the hour-long class. Though I respect the boldness of someone to share their thoughts on our song selection with an unfamiliar face, there is one question that is my favorite to answer– “What is your favorite thing about United City?”
There are so many things I love about our church, and I am not just saying that because it feels like the right thing to say. From practical teaching to powerful worship, there is a lot I could share. Yet, I get to share about the one thing I love the most– I get to pursue Jesus alongside people who are 8, and I get to pursue Jesus alongside people who are 80.
Intergenerational worship– We are better together
Though we are typically more comfortable being surrounded by people who are “like us”– live in the same neighborhoods, believe the same political ideologies, shop at the same stores, etc; It is a gift to worship with people who are not like you. Though I love being a part of our Young Adult ministry, I miss out on the fullness of what the church is if I only ever worship with other 18-25-year-olds. I love being around people who dress like me, I love using the same language and talking in TikTok references, I love getting to be around people that have experienced similar things as a Christian and who are a part of Gen-Z. While worshipping with people “like us” has its benefits, we are at our best when we can unite in our uniqueness and worship the same God with passion and hunger, regardless of our upbringing, race, gender, or any other differences.
This should not only be an encouragement for you right now, but it is also in preparation for heavenly worship. Revelation 7:9 speaks of this by saying,
“…Behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,”
We will spend eternity worshiping Jesus with people who are from every nation, every tribe, and every language. If you have an issue worshiping with people who are different from you now, you may experience some culture shock in heaven! This is not a call to throw away all programs based on commonalities, but if that is the only way you are experiencing community in the church I would urge you to talk to the family that sits in front of you with teenage kids or the senior adults who has been following Jesus for longer than you have been alive.
Intergeneration discipleship– It’s not about you
Since the beginning of time, culture has been screaming that our preferences matter more than our convictions and commitments. If something feels uncomfortable, it must not be right and we stop doing it. If a better opportunity presents itself, we should take it regardless of our prior commitments. If something consumes too much of our time, it threatens the vision we had for our night, weekend, etc, and we don’t do it. While boundaries are necessary for living a healthy life, being a Christian can be an inconvenience to our preferences. As we pursue to die to ourselves daily, our flesh often doesn’t go down without a fight.
The truth is that pursuing intergenerational discipleship is inconvenient. It looks like late-night snacks on the back porch while the kids are asleep or setting your alarm clock even earlier to grab coffee before you leave for work. It looks like inviting that college student over for dinner or showing up for that high school student’s game whose parents are going through a divorce. It looks like getting lunch after church with the widow and giving people rides to the airport– hopefully Intercontinental and not Hobby…(I’m convinced every time I pick up a friend at Hobby that I will have another jewel in my heavenly crown). Though you may question on your drive over what you will talk about or if you will have anything in common, you will quickly realize that you have much to learn, and that the family of God truly is that– a family. There are kids searching for parent figures and grandparents ready to make you their honorary children and grandchildren.
We need each other
The church needs the older generations. We need people who have navigated through the seasons we are struggling through and that have tenure with the Lord. We need to see the example of a faithful life and a life well lived for the Lord. The church needs the younger generations. We need to see the testimony of a young person on fire for Jesus. The fresh perspective of young believers. We need to see how God is answering the prayers prayed over the younger generations. The church needs all generations in between. Simply put, we need each other. I believe that our church, our schools, and our city will look different when we recognize the beauty of our differences and actively cross generational divides. There is nothing stronger than a united church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it! I want to encourage you to ask yourself these questions and assess how God can use you to cross generational divides:
What life experiences have you been through that could help someone around you?
Who has God placed in your life to share those experiences with?
Who has God placed in your life to learn from?
The answers to those questions will give you a place to start when answering the question “Where God is calling me to get intentional with the people around me?”. And that’s when the magic happens— The person who serves on the same serve team as you turns into a mentor and the mom that you watch wrangler her kids through the lobby turns into a friend. That is and has always been how the church is designed to function— as not just a place to be poured into, but also a place to pour into those around you. Now let’s go start those conversations (as awkward as they might be at first) and watch God move in beautiful ways.
By: Julia Ponko
Youth Girls Associate