Practical Advice for the Multiple Generations of Ministers

While much of the last few editions of The Church Revitalizer blog has been focused on volunteers within our churches, a word needs to be offered for the clergy both young and old.

Remember the scripture:

Now that I am old and gray, do not abandon me, O God. Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me (Psalm 71:18).

The Older Patriarchal Minister Should…

· Not dislike, fear, or judge the next generation of ministers, but rather believe in them, coach them, and invest in their ministries.
· Not treat them as the future leaders of upcoming decades. but rather understand they are the new leaders of today’s church.
· Not treat them strangely because they act differently, but rather understand they are like you as you were different then your predecessors.
· Not treat them as a danger to you and your ministry. Such insecurity hurts the church and makes it hard to invest in the younger generation of ministers.
· Not give meaningless assignments, but give away authority so a leader can be made.
· Become their greatest cheerleaders showing a high degree of belief in them.
· Embrace the season of life you are in and provide for the future by developing successors. Your age and experience is not a liability.
· Become a spiritual Father to the younger generations.

The Younger Generational Minister Should…

· Seek to understand that you need those who have come before you.
· Work towards not displaying the sense of entitlement that your generation has fixated upon. You do not need to have your parent’s lifestyle at 23 years of age. It took them a lifetime, yours will also.
· Seek to understand that you tend to overestimate what God wants to do through you in the short run.
· This disillusions you and then causes you to underestimate what God will do through you in the long run.
· Understand that because the younger generation feels entitled, it is a generation that does not show honor well. Andy Stanley says, “Honor publicly leads to influence privately.”
· As a Young generational minister if you want to lead up, show honor.
· Learn to serve under people well in order for you to be over someone later. Honor values, respects, and highly esteems. Honor lifts up. Dishonor tears down. Respect is earned, but honor is given.
· Understand the truth that some of you need to repent because you have dishonored those above you, and that dishonor is hindering you from being able to achieve what you need to do.
· Always be a life learner and have a teachable spirit. You are the most cause driven, mission minded generation in modern history. If you will come under authority and be teachable, you will be the greatest generation of our time.
· Understand that the Lord our God believes in you. He chooses you! Do not underestimate your future.
· Learn one final note: Give God glory by taking the best from those who have come before us. Quit messing around in pride and arrogance and do something that glorifies the cause of Christ.

Scripture is helpful for the young as well when we read that Jesus told them:

“A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family” (Mark 6:4).

What’s the significance of generations? First, they tend to think and act in unison on many matters. And those decisions influence the nation and entire culture as a whole. As Christians, what can we learn from these generational distinctions so as to better attract them and serve their needs?

In looking at Elder generations, Baby Boomers, and Baby Busters, we’ve learned that faith matters. But how that faith is defined, classified, and a part of everyday life differs from group to group. To Elder generations, faith is the foundation of your life. It builds character and provides perspective. It puts you in touch with your family, your community, your friends, and God. Elder generations, therefore, appreciate religious institutions as vehicles for facilitating the value derived from faith. Boomers appreciate faith because it provides security. The traditions and structures may not work for Boomers, but the content of faith makes some sense. Boomers seek to absorb the “right information” and apply it to their daily battle for progress and supremacy. They’ll accept religious institutions as long as they produce more benefit than cost. Busters see faith as a framework for discovering important insights and developing lasting relationships. The institutions are irrelevant to them since their personal interest is in people, not trappings. For them, faith is a macro value, not an entire, independent dimension of life.

As Christians, our religious faith should influence how we see and respond to generational distinctives. Rather than focus on how to maintain the distinctives of our generations, our challenge is to take the principles found in the Bible and strategically apply them to the tensions and opportunities resident within the generational battles that rage around us.

Let’s think about that fact and begin doing something about it! If you would like to have conversations related to this blog post, why not drop me a line so we can begin your journey and conversation.

You can connect with Dr. Tom Cheyney and the RENOVATE Church Revitalization Virtual Coaching Network additionally via Facebook at RENOVATE Conference. Tom is the co-author of Spin-Off Churches (B&H Publishers), a conference speaker and a frequent writer on church planting, new church health, and church revitalization. Be looking for The Biblical Foundations for Church Revitalization by Tom Cheyney and Terry Rials later this year. If you or your church would like more information you may contact him at Tom@renovateconference.org, or tcheyney@goba.org.

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