If you think of every 15 years as a new generation there are six generations between birth and 90 years of age. We at Immanuel are multigenerational at heart, but in fact we have been mainly people in the 4th, 5th and 6th generations.
We are now experiencing a renewal that brings more of our grandchildren’s and great-grandchildren’s peers into the church, but we don’t aim to become a church where the 4th 5th and 6th generations are trying to live in the 2nd and 3rd. We do believe in a full generational setting for worship. We need each other. Spirituality is a multigenerational thing.
Consider this story. A new young nurse went to work in a retirement center and didn’t connect very well. She had never lived around her grandparents. One day an older woman felt she should do some mentoring. She said to the young nurse, “You might find it easier to be with people here if you realize that most people here are like me. I’m still the little girl making mud pies. I laugh about it and enjoy it. I’m still the young teen ager wanting a horse, and I smile at some of the psychological reasons for it that I didn’t understand then. I’m still the young girl getting ready for my first date. I’m still the young woman experiencing the ‘water breaking’ before I gave birth to my first child.
“Spiritually, I am sometimes still the little girl standing up on the inside when I am forced to sit down by some authority that means well. Sometimes I still need to accept responsibility for my own misbehavior, although it is more likely to be an un-filtered word or an unkind thought, now that I am older. But I can remember other things, and I can remember grace! Remember? Yes, but I live in grace by faith.”
What is more important, the central spiritual realities are remarkably the same for all generations, and we are “about” those realities. Little children, Jesus tells us, always are available to teach people of every age the essential nature of faith. Faith is child-like, not childish. In a child-like way we trust Christ for all of life. Older generations need to re-learn this again and again in real life situations.