Resurrected Living
"What are you going to do with your new resurrected life? This is the heroic question." Richard Rohr

How to Overcome Generational Differences


Each generation is different. They each have their own unique perspective. They each have different ways of looking at problems and coming up with solutions. Each generation looks at things through a different lens. A younger generation sees things an older generation does not and vice versa. These different perspectives sometimes cause generational rifts. This happens in the world, but it also happens in the church.

The difference between generations is often because one generation is reacting to another. Sometimes it is like a pendulum swing. One generation sees that another has swung too far in one direction, so it tries to correct this by swinging in the opposite direction. Sometimes one generation simply identifies things another generation has overlooked or ignored. These reactions are not a bad thing. They are often a way of trying to fix a perceived problem.

Younger generations are freer. They are not tied down to a tradition. They have the ability to change rapidly and easily. Older generations are less likely to change quickly or without some objection. They have a routine. They value tradition. They have gained wisdom from their previous experiences. Neither is right or wrong. This is just the way it is. This is life.

The church is comprised of various groups. It is comprised of black and white, men and women, young and old, etc. These various groups come together to form one body. One group is not inferior to another. We are all one in Christ, and yet generational strife often creeps its head in the church. A healthy congregation will not ignore these differences, but seek to create an environment where differing generations are able to benefit from one another.

Here are four ways to defuse generational strife and get to a place of learning and growth.

Listen: Each generation needs to listen to the other and seek to understand why they value what they value. Listening is a helpful exercise that is always beneficial. It even has the potential to resolve a problem. People like to know they are being listened to. A good listener pays attention and asks questions.

An explanation of why someone does what they do is good for both parties. One side is able to think through and articulate something that is meaningful to them. The other side gets to hear the reason behind a certain belief or behavior.

Do Not Get Defensive: Because generational rifts are often a reaction to something the other generation is or is not doing, there is a temptation to become defensive. We do not like being told that we have missed something or we have gotten something wrong. Although it may be true, it is not always welcome advice. Each generation needs to recognize that other generations see things they have missed. This should cause us to learn from one another, rather than get defensive.

Do Not Act Based on Fear: Generations can sometimes fear one another. This fear may stem from a lack of understanding. We fear what we do not understand. Fear is a great motivator. It causes us to act, but when we act upon fear we are not doing what is best. Making decisions based upon fear is often very harmful. God wants us to act based on faith.

Compromise: One of the most important passages on church relations is Philippians 2:1-11. In this passage Paul encourages all Christians to have the mind of Christ. In verses 3-4 he writes, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” We are commanded to consider the interests of others. As long as there is not a clear Biblical answer, then compromise is a valid option.

In John 13:35 Jesus says, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” All Christians should seek to get along. Differences will arise, but we should always respond in love and remember that we are all united in Christ.

One Response to “How to Overcome Generational Differences”

  1. This is so true. Wisdom and knowledge comes from God’s word. Well said!

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