Baby Boomers and Teens: Working Together

The Horizon, – Raising a New Generation of Leader

By Daniel Griswold, Twitter Name: @dannonhill

Statistically there are two large groups that have been projected to dominate culture now and in the near future.

The Baby Boomer generation is entering retirement with all the resources that they have hopefully accumulated.   For many it is a time of contribution to the wider culture as institutions benefit from their service and experience. It is apparent that they volunteer in large numbers and build up institutions as well as structures to teach and nurture the next generations.  Above and beyond, retirement resources are often used to help younger adults through tough patches.

The second group is the up and coming young.  The children of the children of the baby boomers are becoming tweens and teens.  They have an enormous amount of leisure time and often drive the agendas of families as traveling soccer teams, music sales and new technological devices gain proliferation.  Often the young are early adopters of new methods of communication and then teach the previous generations how move into these realms as well.

It strikes me that despite age, there are many correlations between the groups.  Both have a high sense of altruism regardless of their ability to accomplish their goals.  Both groups are not required to work and recent reports in the recession show that they actually compete for the same jobs in many marketplaces, often for the same reason – to have a little extra spending money.

Within our congregation we have both groups.  I recently taught a confirmation class and we celebrated 13 young people making the decision to continue on in the journey of faith.  At that celebration we had around 150 people for lunch, many who were older members who wished to support and get to know those who had officially joined through the vow that morning.

I love it that there is a potential connection between the groups.  Often churches worry that their church has too many old people (and tend towards reserved and traditional culture), and some churches have an abundance of families and youth (often with radical growth and lots of out of control energy).

But imagine what is possible if both groups spent time together, worked together, intentionally worshipped together, basically – lived life together.  The energy that and ideas of youth could shake up structures and give wiggle room to get rid of things that don’t work.  Those with more years could provide stories and wisdom, which are such an important part of identity formation.  Some people assume that youth are situated to make adult decisions at the age of 13.  This is not true.  In our culture, it sometimes takes until 30 for someone to feel secure enough to live life independently.  I believe that more time spent together in intergenerational fellowship would benefit everyone.

When the temple in Jerusalem needed musicians (1 Chronicles 25) there is a verse that perks the ears because it is so radical that we have to take note.  I know it sounds strange that a many millennia old organization could teach us anything, but it can.

“Along with their relatives—all of them trained and skilled in music for the LORD—they numbered 288.  Young and old alike, teacher as well as student, cast lots for their duties…”

Both young and old alike!  How can we do this?  We’ll never know if we fear it.  To the retirees I challenge you to meet a young person and mentor them.  That’s as easy as listening and giving some wisdom and direction.  To the young, be open to the words of those who have lived long lives before your birth.  Both will be excited to know that we are all children of God, more similar than different.

An edited version is published in The Bluffton Packet and The Island Packet Online.

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