Welcome to the historic First Baptist Church of Memphis, serving Memphis & the Mid-South since 1839. You will find exciting ministries, mission opportunities, and vibrant worship.

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9:30am Sunday School
11:00am Worship

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5:00pm Dinner
6:00pm Bible Study


200 East Parkway North, Memphis, TN 38112 ⋅ Office: 901.454.1131

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On the Intergenerational Church

If you were like me, you were raised in an intergenerational church.  There were people present from 1 week (in the viewing window no less) to 100, and everywhere in between.  At every age that I can remember, there were those older than me present and those younger than me present, each offering their own unique gifts and struggles.  We spoke of church as the family of God, and going to church did have the feel of a weekly family reunion where you reconnected with those that were many times even closer than blood relatives.

But this past month, I read an article that mentioned a generational church, which is a church composed almost totally of a single generation of people.  And then that same week I went out to eat with a local pastor whose church is pretty much a generational church, comprised of those in their twenties and thirties.  And then you don’t have to look far to see many congregations that consist only of seniors. 

It’s a phenomenon which should not have caught me off guard, but it did.  I say it should not have caught me off guard because for decades now, even our typical multi-generational church has been becoming more and more segregated by age, and by this I’m referring to more than just Sunday School.  In many larger churches you may have totally different worship services for children and youth and college/young adult, even seniors.

In some respects, the dynamics here are not new, nor are they peculiar just to the issue of age.  We tend to like ourselves—our views, our likes and dislikes, our tastes—and thus we tend to seek out those with whom we share such things in common.  Its just too much work to deal with diversity.  And many times these dynamics follow along generational lines.  Common history and experience many times leads to common views and taste.  And thus, we see what is happening in church today.

And yet, is this really what we want?  At the very least we should stop and consider what we are giving up.  We should consider the unique gift that each generation makes to the church family.  Do we want to give up the blessing that only seniors can offer?  Do we want to abandon the life wisdom of median adults?  Can we really live without the prophetic enthusiasm of young adults, the energy of youth, the joy of children?   Now, to be reminded of such significant truth does not negate the fact that creating intergenerational community, as with all types of diversity, is work, because it is.  It will demand patience and time and a willingness try things outside our comfort zone.  And at times it will require us to agree to disagree.   

But when the Body of Christ is at its best, it is a complete body filled with numerous diverse parts all doing their part to further the Kingdom of God.  And this, in my book, includes not only the diversity of spiritual gifts, but the diversity of the generations and what they bring to the table.  It may be hard work to create an intergenerational church, but I would contend that its worth it.

Recently one of our young adults wrote beautifully of the sadness she was experiencing over the death of a senior adult in their neighborhood.  She said the woman had been the glue of the neighborhood, always stopping to talk and take interest in what was going on in your world, a surrogate grandmother to most every child in the neighborhood.   As I read her tribute, I thought of how I had experienced the same dynamic, time and time again, in our church, and how blessed we all are to be a part of family of faith of many generations.

So, as we face our future and all the challenges that accompany it, I do hope that we will do so, not by retreating back into our own groups, generational or otherwise, but as a family composed of those “across the ages.”  It may be hard work, but we will be the better for it, and the Kingdom of God will be the better for it.

Grace, David 


This article was written by Rev. Dr. David Breckenridge and originally published in the November edition of Together.

Posted by Bridget Ellis at 5:09 PM
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