Intergenerational Friendships: Breaking Down Barriers

Welcome to the fourth and final post in our series on Intergenerational Friendships! If you missed any of the previous posts, they are linked below:

A Generational Snapshot

Quilted Together

We Need Each Other

Now that we understand a little more about “generational” positioning and God’s Design for Intergenerational Friendships, where do we go from here?

Let’s begin with the unwritten rule…

The Unwritten Rule

People are happier with others their own age.

This unwritten and generally accepted rule developed over the last century as schoolhouses made the transition from one room to places of age-specific classrooms. From there the influence made its way into our churches where age-specific Sunday School classes and season-specific ministries were born.

Now, this is not entirely a bad thing. Age-specific groupings can allow us to tailor our curriculum and activities. It can provide a place for encouragement and support from those in our same life season. And these targeted groupings can make it easier for forming friendships.

However, while receiving these wonderful benefits from the transition, we have at the same time lost something fundamental – intergenerational friendships.

In spending most of our time grouped with others our own age and in our own season, we’ve grown to believe that we don’t have enough in common with people of other ages – older or younger, and our empathy has dulled.

…and add to that, a common reality…

A Common Reality

The further removed we are from one another – generationally, financially, racially, – the more our number of potential connection points is diminished.

Therefore, going back to our Generational Snapshot, between Millennials and Gen-Xers, some connection points are missing. And between Millennials and Traditionalists, the number of missing connection points is much greater.

Add in financial differences, racial differences, socio-economic differences and the number of connection point diminishes exponentially.

Unwritten Rules… Common Realities…

Honestly, we are staring at the forming of intergenerational friendships (God’s design) with both arms tied behind our backs.

…wait, there’s more!

We Build Walls

In addition to the Rules and the Realities, we are also extremely good at building walls against those who are different from us.

Oh yes, we build walls. We segregate ourselves by generation, by season of life, by age. We cluster with those with whom we share commonalities, and we steer clear of those with differences.

In our humanness, in our wanting to protect ourselves – we build walls.

But Jesus Breaks Down Barriers

We build walls, but Ephesians chapter two tells me that my Jesus doesn’t build walls. No, He is in the business of breaking down barriers!

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to break down some barriers.

With a little time and some conversation, we can begin to chip away at those walls we’ve built – all of them!

God is higher than my walls. He’s bigger than my generation.

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, Revelation 7:9

Jesus came to save people “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages.” He came for the young, and He came for the old.

Intergenerational Friendships

Intergenerational friendships…

…are a humbling reminder that God is not exclusive to my generation. He works in the generations of others, and He is worshipped by members of all generations.

…uniquely kill my judgmental attitudes and my prejudices. Simply through friendship, others have helped to challenge, confront, and banish some of my flawed assumptions about those in generations other than my own.

…teach me that the kingdom of God is a family. He came for all, and I have a responsibility to listen to, lift, love, learn from, and lead the entire family.

It’s Your Turn

Healthy intergenerational friendships are key to unlocking understanding, growing in godly character, and building strong families.

How do you plan to go about joining Jesus in the business of breaking down barriers to intergenerational friendship?

2 comments on “Intergenerational Friendships: Breaking Down Barriers

  1. I am so glad that Jesus breaks down barriers!!! I’m so encouraged when I go to church on Sundays to see all the barriers He has broken. We have a great ethnic diversity in our church and I just absolutely love that! People from all over the world and all we have in common really is that we love the same God. It’s beautiful!

    Thanks for this series, it’s been quite thought provoking.

    Thanks for linking up at InstaEncouragements!

  2. I wish everyone understood these principles that you’re sharing. Intergenerational friendships seem to be more rare these days in this age of specialization. May we each do our part to befriend those younger and older than ourselves as well as our own age.

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