Programmed Segregation

I was visiting my church during the interview process and I in a meeting where our venues were mentioned I suggested that a certain venue seemed more “diverse.” The people in the meeting nodded politely but I realized they didn’t know what I meant by diversity in this sense. While to their minds I was speaking about racial diversity, I was actually talking about generational diversity. The question of racial diversity remain for another day but I have been giving thought to the question of generation diversity and want to process some of this thinking here.

As I look at a programmed structure of church (age defined ministry etc) one negative result of this is segregation in the church (again I am zeroing in on age segregation.) We create such a level of comfort within our own little age or season of life demographic group that being the Biblical, cross-generational church makes us nervous. And in highly-programmed settings we focus so closely on our unique group that we become irrelevant for lack of interaction within the church as a whole. It is a terrible outcome and one that will surely keep your ministry or church from reaching people outside of these groups.

How then do we combat this programmed segregation? One way is to do away with the programs – but since I am a “young adults” pastor that would mean I have to go, so are there other solutions? I think if we follow the Biblical model of church in all of our ministries it is easier to defeat this age segregation and unify the church.

First our focus and purpose has to be centered on the cross. All of our teaching and events must at the center have Christ as the focus. We teach from the Bible, we challenge our members with the reality of the gospel and we purposefully worship in response to what Christ has accomplished.

Next we exist in intentional community. As we recognize the model of the first church in Acts we strive to be generational, ethnically and socially diverse. Even if you are a young adults ministry you venture to build generational interaction within your church. This can be through mentoring and other forms of discipleship. It can also be accomplished through service as we help our communities and share the gospel. In the community that we form in our ministry, we are mindful of involving and integrating others.

As we build on a Christ-centered strategy in which we are building lasting community, we then become cultural influencers. Our environments actually change because we are creating culture of higher value that what exists. People are draw to the church because it is different. The love we share for one another serves as an enticement for others.

Are there other ways to break down the generational divides in our churches?

5 Comments

  1. “And in highly-programmed settings we focus so closely on our unique group that we become irrelevant for lack of interaction within the church as a whole. It is a terrible outcome and one that will surely keep your ministry or church from reaching people outside of these groups.”

    This assumes that the programming for these groups (or venues) is always self focused. I think this comes naturally with a venue setup – but it doesn’t have to be that way.

    In any setting – highly programmed or not – being inward (self) focused and relationally compartmentalized (or compartmentalized in any form) is not healthy nor what Christ modeled.

    And yet – there is unrealized potential in having age specific groups identified and meeting together so that we as leaders can leverage them together for the kingdom’s work and discipleship journey. The idea that if we all just sat in the same room we would suddenly be cross-generational and “be the real church” is hogwash without strong, purposeful leadership. Sure it would be easier – but I’ve come to find that easier can a lot of times translate into being lazy, a lack of challenge, focus, and passion.

    I know that there is a way to meet in separate rooms for an hour and a half on Sunday AND YET be one mind, one body, one church – together in unity outside that Sunday (which is what we’re preaching anyway right? Being the church outside of Sunday?).

    It begins with a vision, starts with bold leadership, and the hard work never ends.

    Reply

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