The Overlooked Value of Intergenerational Friendships

The next time you are in a coffee shop, or at a restaurant, or even in a church, take a minute to look around. I’m sure you’ll see lots of friends enjoying each other’s company. I’m also sure very few of those groups will be inter-generational. Young moms hang out with other young moms, and college guys, middle-aged couples, and retired folks each keep to themselves. That’s just the way it is.

Our culture has drastically segregated itself. Young people do this and older people think that. There is almost no mixing or understanding happening between generations.

And the worst part is that this thinking has trickled into our churches.

With age-segregated small groups, or worship services with different age groups in mind, Christians just aren’t… mixing. Many hardly know the names of people outside of their usual clique, let alone had a conversation with them.

It’s very sad. And worse, it’s very un-Biblical.

Titus 2 outlines our roles for helping one another in the church at large, for women and for men.

Verses 4 and 5 tell older women:

“…that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.”

Verses 6-8 include the men, saying:

“Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.”

And, of course, these require the younger people to participate too by looking for advice and asking questions.

God designed generations with a purpose in mind, and He designed His church to grow abundantly because of intergenerational friendships.

God designed His church to grow through intergenerational friendships Click To Tweet

People who have been walking with the Lord for years longer than us have seen the Lord work in ways we can’t imagine. They have learned things about Him that speak to where we are struggling and they have hard-earned suggestions for living holy and blamelessly in this world.

Younger people bring new ideas and fresh energy, helping others see new ways of thinking or of serving God.

And yet we keep structuring our churches and our personal friendships so as to keep us isolated from such important opportunities for growth.

So how do we fix it? How do we reach out and make friends with people in a totally different walk of life than us?

  • Just start a conversation! Walk up, introduce yourself, ask some questions and see where it goes!
  • Invite them over for dinner or games and dessert. Make time to expand your circle of friends a bit, and set aside intentional time to really get to know them.
  • Ask for their advice or offer some of your own when asked. Make what you have learned in your spiritual walk of help to someone else.
  • Find a common interest. One of the best ways to build a friendship is to find something you have in common, whether that is a love for bowling, baking, history, photography…
  • Maybe even start a Bible study with them. Ask them if they would be willing to meet with you once a week to be your prayer partner and to study God’s Word. It might feel awkward at first, but think of how much you might both be impacted by it!

Benjamin and I have both been hugely influenced by our friendships with people older than us and people younger than us. Benjamin, in fact, has been since he was really little and was close friends with a 70 year old couple who modeled Christ for him in all kinds of ways. And I have probably never grown spiritually more quickly than when I was mentored by the pastor’s wife at one of our churches.

Benjamin with his good friends

Christian friendships are just a fun form of discipleship, and we should be so excited to connect with the body of Christ. We can praise the Lord that His body is full of people at so many stages and places in life. It is a real blessing!

 

Linking up with Grace & Truth and Faith Filled Friday!

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