The Power of Intergenerational Connection

by Geoff King

Last week, we began to explore God’s heart for the generations.

In our time together, my goal was to point to the impact intergenerational connection has had on my life and align our hearts to recognize that The Ancient of Days is weaving the stories of all the generations together – as a part of His story – and has invited us to partner with Him.

Over the past week, I have had a few conversations about how generational connection or disconnection has impacted individuals lives within The Church. On our “Flourish!” vlog I connected with Youth For Christ (YFC)-City Life National Director, Nygel Simms and learned how being connected to our emerging-teen generation (Screeners/Gen-Z) in ministry has revealed to him their heart to be loved, understood, and validated in their Kingdom-purposes.

He shared how he’s been shepherded by this generation, by observing how many of them are using The Gospel and prayer to point peers back to God’s heart for unity. I also spoke with a lay-leader at Fellowship who shared that she – as a mother – raising her own children, sees the need for Spirit-led mothering in her own life and generation. While discussing with a small group around us, she began to express how that void has impacted her as she aligns her heart to mother her children and love other children near to her family.

What we see in both my examples above is two millennial aged people pointing out two different intergenerational needs: The need to be connected to generations “below” you, and the need to be connected with generations “above” you. Secondarily, in both my conversations there were affects and emotions that expressed want and willingness to be connected.  As we may obviously be able to see, to have both, “below and above” creates a generational connectivity; connectivity to both (and the lack thereof) can have impact on our lives.  

Marc Freedman, author of, “How to Live Forever: The Enduring Power of Connecting the Generations” shares that, “when younger and older connect, the intergenerational relationships built are a route to success in early life and a key to happiness and well-being in our later years.”

Here, Freedman points to the impact of intergenerational connection for both the older and younger among us. For those of us in the younger generations, what is gleaned from those above us can lay a ground-work for fruitfulness in the years to come. In comparison, his thought shares that those of us in older generations garnish happiness as we give to, connect with, and learn from (or about) the younger among us.

Brothers and sisters of the faith, just imagine the type of fulfillment we would have among one another if we embraced our heart’s desire to give and glean no matter where we are on the generational scale. The younger among us lives would be greatly impacted and the older among would gain more joy.
Although I like Freedman’s quote and believe it is true, it only describes partially what we as brothers and sisters in Christ can experience when we connect intergenerationally.  

In John 10:10, Jesus shares how He came to give us life and life in full. The method? By being a shepherd to the sheep – leading, guiding, directing them toward truth- with His life lived on earth as the ultimate guide.

In our generation we have an amazing opportunity to be as Christ.

See, The God of the universe wants more than success for the young. He desires for their lives to be poured into so that they can be fruitful. The Lord not only wants the older among us to experience happiness but, more than that, JOY and Kingdom fulfillment. What we have in us – by the way of The Spirit – that can be given intergenerationally, can root those very things among us.

Are we willing to open our eyes to intergenerational connection, seek The Lord for where He is opening doors, and recognize that fruit and joy can be gleaned and gained among us? For me, I always think, “what I give from what I have received to the 20-something young men in my life – I hope – leads to fruit, and what I receive from those who invest in me – I pray – fills them with joy.”

In both directions my heart moves toward Psalm 78:5-7

He established a testimony in Jacob
and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers
to teach to their children,
 that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
  so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments;

As we continue slowly unpack God’s heart for the generations together, perhaps you can ask yourself these questions:

1. Where is The Lord inviting me to learn from brothers/sisters in the faith “below” me, generationally? And how may He be asking me to give to them uniquely?

2. Where is The Lord inviting me to share what I need from the generation “above” me? And how is He is asking me to posture myself to receive it?

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