January 24 – Yes, I remember dial telephones, but I’d still like to get to know you

wall phoneAge segregation is a curse in too many churches, LPC included.

If you are a Facebook user you’ve probably seen those memes that pop up on your news feed every so often. There might be a picture of a typewriter or the Skipper and Gilligan, SpongeBob Square Pants or an Apple 2 computer. You are supposed to click “like” if you remember what’s pictured in the post.

Yeah, I am that old. And, yes, I remember dial telephones (harvest gold and permanently attached to the wall). I can report accurately that the S.S. Minnow set sail that day for a three-hour tour, a three-hour tour. Most of my friends in the Baby Boom Generation cohort are likely to say, “Me, too.”

Sure it’s kind of fun to remember the way things were, things mostly (and rightly) forgotten. And maybe those kids who don’t remember ought to know why people still ask, “Can you dial the number for me?” and why we talk about typing a document. And, really, if you think about it, Thurston Howell, III, was so typical of the 1%. We should have known.

Generational values, preferences and experiences are different, no doubt about it. That’s the point that Elliot Simko, from our mission partner the Coalition for Christian Outreach was making last night at Faith Acts as he talked about the generations – Traditionalist, Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials. College ministry, at which the CCO excels, must understand that how you reach a college student with the Gospel in 2014 is a lot different than how you might have reached a college student with the Gospel in 1974 or 1984. Even 2004.

In case you aren’t familiar with generation-talk, here’s a link to some of the material Elliot shared with us last night.

As we were cleaning up after class and Elliot was getting ready to leave, he said the most wonderful thing. We were talking about how the evening had gone (very well) and ways LPC might strengthen our mission partnership with the CCO (pray about that). Elliot told us that as Partnership Coordinator for the CCO in Philadelphia he often visits with church groups and often talks about the generations and the challenge of presenting the unchanging good news of the Gospel in the constantly changing environment of the college campus.

Then Elliot told us how rare it is to have members of all four generations gathered in one group sharing freely and joyfully across the generational lines. That’s exactly what happened in the Chapel last night. And it is a most wonderful thing.

Age segregation is a curse in too many churches, LPC included. I’m all for youth groups and young couples groups and senior citizens groups. I am not for separation. I am not for the young not knowing the wisdom and experience of the old, and the old forgetting the energy and questioning and enthusiasm of the young.

The Psalmist writes:

Young men and women alike,
old and young together!
Let them praise the name of the Lord, (Psalm 148:12-13a, NRSV)

“Graybeards and little children,” is how the Message puts it.

What a joy to be a church where Traditionalists and Millennials, 20-somethings, 50-somethings and 70-somethings meet together. That’s what happened in the Chapel last night. So good to see graybeards and little children enjoying each other praising the Lord together. That’s what happened at the Faith Acts dinner last night.

But we bear the curse of being an age-segregated church all too often. Do you agree? What might we do to more often be the church Elliot Simko from the CCO experienced last night at Faith Acts?