Before writing this article, I do not need to tell you my age because you can tell by my picture the approximate age group I fit into, but I am 74 years old.
At this age, I am more conscious than ever before of the differences of opinions among the different age groups. Several years ago most of us classified "age groups" by the following divisions: infant, toddler, child, pre-teen, teen, young adult, adult, middle-aged adult and senior adult.
In my teen years and soon after, I remember a tremendous plea among church leaders to "do more for our young people."
Great and costly efforts were made to provide for activity to "hold our youth lest they depart the church." It is not my purpose in writing this article to argue what activities were good or bad.
I am concerned, though perhaps a greater emphasis should have been placed and still needs to be placed upon shared activity between age groups.
Age groups are classified often today according to the year one was born. One listing defines those born after 1997 as Generation Z, 1980 to 1998 as millennials, 1965 to 1979 as Generation X, 1946 to 1964 as baby boomers, 1928 to 1945 as silent generation, and those born before 1928 are often referred to as "the greatest generation" based on a book written by Tom Brokaw by that same title.
This "tag" was given them because they had survived the Great Depression and especially because of World War II.
I suppose the use of these categories is helpful in ways especially to counselors and business executives because of the different ideas and ways of the different age groups; but would it not be greatly helpful if we would concentrate more on ways anyone of a particular age group can relate to the other age groups.
For instance, young people not only learn history lessons by reading books and viewing videos, but by listening to older people.
In 1987, I moved to southern Ohio to pastor. An elderly parishioner (age 98) was no longer able to attend church, but I enjoyed visiting him because of what he had experienced. I recall some of the questions I asked. Who is the first president of our country you personally remember?
His immediate answer was William McKinley. The first one I could say I remembered was Dwight Eisenhower. One of the first persons I remember growing up was an elderly man who was an officer in a church our family first attended when I was 4 years old. We attended that same church until I left for Bible College to prepare for the ministry.
This man was a chalk artist and at times drew a picture for our church bulletin board.
In my teen years, he drew a picture of a young man in a small boat. On the side of the boat was a name: education and on the rear a rudder with the word Bible on it. Beneath the picture he wrote: "Education give it all the sail, boy, but keep a strong grip on that rudder."
This little message has remained with me during 50 years of Christian ministry.
Ideally much of this activity between generations should take place in the home. The home is basic to society.
In the past it was much more likely a household would include three generations: children, parents and grandparents. It was also very likely at least the supper meal would be eaten together.
It was not only the main meal of the day but a time to discuss the day's activities. After the meal Grandpa just might offer to play his little grandson a game of checkers.
What an opportunity for that boy to share an experience that happened at school and for his grandfather to give him some practical advice.
St. Paul as a veteran minister and missionary wrote a letter to a young minister named Titus. In our Bibles that epistle is translated containing just three chapters with 46 verses. In Chapter 2, he commanded Titus to instruct the "aged" to teach the younger.
Yes, the elderly have a tremendous responsibility to pass information on to the next generations, but to teach by example. Youth cannot only learn information from the past, but benefit from advice given and examples lived out before them.
As a family perhaps you can begin thinking of "suppertime" as not only the time to eat a quick meal and then rush off different directions to do what you believe you need to do, but consider it "prime time for family activity."
Rev. Jim Davis is pastor of the Pilgrim Holiness Church of Strattanville.