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Oil & Water? Intergenerational Small Groups

By October 8, 2015May 31st, 20162 Comments

It is so easy to be around people we are most like—perspective, life stage, income, political views, spiritual level, and age. We have so much in common that our conversations are easy and less stressful.

But God has designed the body to need each other for growth and sustenance. If we all see things the same way, we are not stretched.

When we spend time with those who are different, we sometime feel like oil and water. We fear that we can’t completely become one. But by mixing together, we affect each other and the whole is different. But God is bigger than our fears, and he can bring unity and growth through variety.
Recently at lunch with some long-time friends, I verbalized a different opinion about a current world situation. I suspect the other women were very surprised since I was likely the first good friend to suggest that some thinking on the issue was unbiblical and lacked faith. I don’t know that anyone changed her mind, but hopefully everyone was challenged to think.

We are all aware of the major perspective differences between the age groups in the U.S. The groups are given names like boomers, Gen-X, and Millennials, placing everyone into little boxes of presumptions (although not everyone fits quite so neatly). But it is helpful to be aware of the generalities because there is some truth to them.

Our differences can make it difficult to converse across the generations. But isn’t it in the hard conversations that we are able to work through our own biases? Isn’t it in being challenged that we struggle to break free of our shortcomings and sins? It certainly is for me!

When I was in my 30’s, I had the privilege of leading a women’s Bible study group for a number of years. I am so grateful that many of them were older, even much older, than I was. I gained a new perspective of God and of the way the Bible connects with my life because of the experiences they shared.

To truly follow Jesus, we need to hear from others who are not exactly like us. Make it a priority to mix your age groups as much as possible as leaders. As a participant, seek out a group with a mixture of ages. And watch God work!

What has been your experience with intergenerational groups?

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Beth McKee says:

    I have benefitted so much in my life from intergenerational groups. Women understand tears regardless of age. Many years ago, I was a young single, and had older and wiser women speak into my life. Now I am an older single, and get to pass that on. Intergenerational groups add a freshness to life– keeps me from getting in stale in giving AND receiving.

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