My Intergenerational Church
There’s no such a thing as a self-made person. To take it further, there’s no such thing as a self-made Adventist. As the saying goes, it really does take a village (er, a church).
Drawing upon hundreds, if not thousands of conversations I have had over the course of my ministry, I still have yet to meet a person who came to Christ, grew and matured all by him or herself. The common thread in every conversation I have with seasoned leaders is that they can always pinpoint that one person or few people that have mentored them and invested in their lives when they were young adults.
Studies show that there is a 5:1 ratio to consider when it comes to faith retention and leadership development. That is, if a young person is surrounded by a tribe of five seasoned mentors that are consistently speaking into their life, it’s much more likely that they will resiliently hold onto their faith and grow into the leaders God has created them to be.
Notice, not one seasoned leader for five young adults, but five seasoned leaders for one young adult.
"The key is to consistently show up, deeply care and listen. Not to respond but to really understand."
One of my all-time favorite metaphors of the church is family. It conjures up the image of generations that are growing and maturing together in Christ Jesus. Families can get messy. (I can testify.) But because we’re family, we stick together and continue to love on each other. Instead of assuming the worst about one another, we empathetically listen and seek to understand and support each other intergenerationally.
It’s interesting to note that God, through His Spirit, will do this work in the last days to help us finish the work. In Malachi 4:6 we read, “He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents.” In Joel 2:28, as the Spirit is poured out, we witness generations that are collaborating together to finish the work: “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.”
It will take all of us, all generations, to finish the work. With that being said, what is mentorship and how can we come to a place where we can intergenerationally reconcile and collaborate with one another? To start off, mentorship is a relationship. And a relationship is all about doing life together. Being on the same journey together.
Contrary to what many may believe, mentorship is not about a wise sage dumping all kinds of wisdom and insights into a young protégé. Rather, it’s a relational dialogue that takes place between generations while doing life together.
The key is to consistently show up, deeply care and listen. Not to respond but to really understand. And when they sense you really care, you’ll receive the permission to speak into their lives.
This is a journey that every church can take through #GrowingYoungAdventists, a journey where generations come together to dialogue and envision a church where all generations grow and thrive together as a body of Christ.
Visit GrowingYoungAdventists.com for more information and to get involved.
By Justin Yang, Texas Conference Young Adult Director and Southwestern Union Growing Young Adventists Representative.