Bridging Generation Gaps to Fill the Mission Gap

At Engage 21, Ed Stetzer said one of the things that the Church of God needs is someone who will bridge the gap between emerging generations and the more established generations…someone willing to take arrows and help new generations make it into the center of the organization.  We have people like that.  We need more.


The benefits are bigger than making younger generations comfortable.  One of the greatest benefits is that gaps in mission are filled when people come together joining established influence and developing creativity, bringing them to bear on significant opportunity of mission.


(The pictures below come from THE SATURN PROJECT benefit concert/St. Patty’s Day Bash with Pi Kappa Pi and People for Care and Learning at Lee University Alumni Park)

In working through the Anthems for a Broken World project over the course of the past year, there have been a number of people, young, old, and in between coming together to bring their influence, creativity, passion, and compassion to bear on mission.  It has been an amazing experience…an experience that has left me in awe of the potential our organization holds…an experience that has left me grateful for Fathers who are willing to take young men under their wing and guide them toward significance.  Men like Mitch Maloney, Fred Garmon, Sim Wilson Jr., Bill George, Doug LeRoy, Dale Denham, David Tilley, Mark Schrade, Victor Pagan, and Tom Madden have been integral in the success not only of the launching of this missions campaign/music project, but, they’ve been contributors in reaching across cultural and age barriers into the lives of younger men and women and drawing out the best in them in this moment and in others.

While standing backstage at Winterfest in Knoxville, Victor Pagan had 23 year-old Alejandro Santoyo under one arm and 29 year old (soon-to-be 30) Jesse Santoyo under the other.  He was loving them and affirming them.  Jesse interrupted him to say, “His son taught me how to play drums!” This and other moments like this are moments in time that change lives.  The eternal impact of a father affirming sons are incalculable.

The future of the Church of God does not lie in the expose’ of differences, the marginalization of retired/retiring ministers, or the isolation of younger ministers.  It lies in the collaboration of all ages, demographics, and races as we do the mission of Jesus together.  It’s invigorating and life-giving.  It produces exponential results.


Many people think that Life Pointe Church is an exclusively young church.  It is not.  With well over 40 different nationalities and all generations represented and involved in ministry, it is a multi-generational/multicutural faith community.  I have come to believe that if we want to see multi-generational cohesion, here are some of the things we must realize and do:

  • Know that we must intentionally grow younger because we naturally grow older.
  • Choose to love the mission more than we dislike some of the stylistic nuances of a particular organization.
  • Be ready to release some of our stylistic comfort zones so we can aggressively operate in  the missional target zone.
  • Get over our cultural sense of propriety and stop taking ourselves so seriously.
  • Understand that we have a primary cultural language but know that we can and should function as cultural multi-linguists.
  • Taste new foods. Have new experiences. Set foot in new communities. Learn new languages. Try the customs of the natives.
  • Pick up new technology to interact with one another.
  • Turn off technology so you can interact with one another.
  • Respect your fathers and mothers so you can receive wisdom, guidance, and correction.
  • Respect your sons and daughters so you don’t make them angry and provoke them to walk away from their roots.
  • Be mutually submitted to one another.
  • Mangle the language that you are learning as an attempt to speak it.
  • It is more important to express your learning and affinity for other cultures than it is to be correct.
  • Appreciate the accents of the nations, the cities, and the countrysides.
  • Laugh at your accent…and let others laugh.
  • Walk slower so you can benefit from the elderly.
  • Walk faster so you don’t give in to rigidity and age.
  • Be flexible and entertain new ideas and new ways of doing things.
  • Be unyielding over only the things that really count.
  • Save the best seats for people who are the least noticed, least able, least “important.”
  • Reserve the backseat for yourself (quit calling “shotgun”).
  • Be quiet and listen so you can learn.
  • Grow a backbone.  Speak up and be counted.  Influence and leadership capital mean nothing if you never use them.
  • Being quiet to get ahead is self indulgent behavior.
  • Saying something all the time and about every topic is self indulgent behavior producing nothing but noise and a bigger ego.
  • Don’t force your way all the time.
  • Receive direction from a multitude of people.
  • Listen to the One Voice that guides you.
  • Say “thank you” to the people who have paved the way.
  • Think, dream, and act in the present and for the future more than you set up memorials to the past.
  • Challenge every human to give of themselves.
  • Inspire people to believe and to act like no one is too old or too young to contribute.
  • Honor the community of faith a lot but less than you honor the Community of the Godhead.


The good future of the Church of God is one of interdependence.  The good future of the Church of God is not found in safety.  The good future of the Church of God is not compromised mission  subordinating to overpowering structure.  The good future of the Church of God is found in being light-weight, fast, and flexible.  The good future of the Church of God is found in rejecting institutionalization.  The good future of the Church of God is found in valuing input from every corner of the church.  The good future of the Church of God is easily accessible.  The good future of the Church of God is not easily attained.  But, it is visible.

It is found in the cohesion of red, yellow, black, and white.  It is found in the cohesion of young, old, and in-between.  It is found in every race, every mindset, and every age coming together in unity around the mission…even especially if it means living cross-culturally and outside of our comfort zonesWhen we get over our cultural and demographic hangups and participate in filling these gaps, the mission gap will be filled by a diverse, motley crew who love Jesus, the mission, and one another with a peculiar, crazy kind of love.


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