And What Kind of Church Shall We Be?

There are three generations in the church:
  •  the "traditional" generation,
  •  the the "emerging" generation,
  •  and the "bridging" generation.
 Each generation serves an important function.

 The traditional generation keeps us rooted in our rich heritage, reminding us of our larger, historic, faith community.

The emerging generation pushes us forward into the future, bringing cutting edge vision for tomorrow's effectiveness.

The bridging generation lives between both worlds, helping both the traditionalists and the emerging types to respect, value and understand each other.

The key to effective congregational change is in the hands of the bridging generation, but that's a difficult role to play.  As Rick Warren noted, "The problem with being a bridge is that you stepped on from both sides."

Without someone bridging the gap, however, a church will either stagnate and die of traditionalism, or, rejecting it's heritage, will wander from orthodoxy in blind arrogance and consumerism.

Yesterday's emerging generation became leaders, and are now today's traditional generation.  The traditions are different -- but the spirit is the same.  It takes humility, courage and patience for these leaders to release authority to the rising generation.

Congregations are most healthy when they are intergenerational -- based on mutual respect and honor.  This calls for patience and the hard work of understanding and forbearance.

Instead of battling over preferences, we must remember that our fight is not with each other.  We're on the same side in our struggle against evil.   Perhaps we should follow Dr. Earle Wilson's sage advice, "Build a bridge and get over it!"

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