It is old news that generational churches are focused on younger demographic groups. Atmospheres for worship, small groups, ministries are created to invite and keep younger adults satisfied in church. I think that there are strengths that play well in such environments and the rise of such congregations are evident. The problems, however, are evidently not easily seen or considered by many who have imagined that they are creating something new and lasting.
There is a biblical question in principle as to whether generations may be ignored, scorned, or even dismissed. One mistake of the church growth movement in the last generation was its insistence on the “homogenous’ model of churches. This principle insisted on an “our kind” only in order to accelerate church growth, especially in main-line denominations. While it sounded good to many at the time, later reflection by many called into question its biblical merit to say nothing of the fact that it didn’t actually work. Main-line churches continue to decline at present. The principle is the same, however. “Our kind” can be race, sex, or age and while it may be attractive to congregations, such is not successfully in business, government, or education. In fact, such restrictions are not lawful in those arenas.
Another question arises whenever one thinks about this generation in maturity. While it may be true that many in “generation now” may want relational connections it is apparent that they do not want cross-generational connections. This is a bind spot young adults often make before they marry, have children, face career challenges, endure health issues, attempt to purchase a home, or live happily in a complex world. Many say these things don’t matter but eventually they do. I know because that is exactly what I said when I was younger. The pursuit of joy generally lasts until someone’s money runs out (read parents), accountability sets in and a new generation comes along. To attempt to live in a generational cocoon is a nice thought but a futile path.
Recently I heard the pleadings of a young mother who is searching for a church with people in every age group that can help her and her husband raise their child, live well, be supported and mentored while finding their way in difficult times. She said she was weary of attending “church for the short term.” She meant that what she had once demanded in church was now not sufficient. She isn’t thirty yet. It didn’t take very long for her to get there.