By ‘intergenerational’ church, I don’t mean a meeting or event - I mean a community showing faith in action across all generations. Forming cross generational relationships, nurturing, learning, supporting and mentoring together.
Each generation setting an example and being a role model to the other….
It also crosses political divides.
Now, I’m sorry if you’re sick of the ‘R’ word by now, but this blog isn’t about politics - it’s about young people and the example we are setting in light of the results.
My personal opinion is that we haven’t done a good job in being that community recently. Whether an ‘Inee’ or ‘outee’ (That sounds like belly buttons doesn’t it!), there have been some not so good examples and role models out there on how to do politics.
So how do we act like an intergenerational church in our responses to the referendum? How do we set an example, strengthen relationships that may have been damaged, and re-build trust and assure our young people that God is still God?
I’m not going to say how I voted - that’s my business. So for ease I will make it sound as though I voted both ways!
A lot of my twitter friends have stated they are worried for our young people as a large portion of them will be disappointed in the result.
I would also add that with of a lot of things said on social media today, they will be afraid too.
And in light of the way some Christians are responding, many will also be confused.
A truly intergenerational church allows discussion, it allows different views. But it also sets a clear example of how it should be done.
So - as a community, let us show a good example of how we should deal with that disappointment. Not with the mud slinging, fear mongering and defamation of character I have seen on social media this morning. But rather with honesty, and a Godly character.
It’s OK to say how we feel about the vote. It’s OK to say why. Let’s allow our young people to say how they feel without thinking they may lose friends over it.
As the grown ups in this debate - we need to model that.
It’s OK to say we are fearful and why. It’s not OK to use that fear as a weapon. Let’s support our young people, discuss their fears with them with wisdom and restraint. Together, find ways to work with those fears to benefit others. For example - if refugees is the greatest concern, then lobby the government - together. If welfare is your greatest fear, then find ways to work together to alleviate the issues and lobby the government on that too. Let the young people lead with compassion so we can learn from them.
It’s not OK to publicly pull people down because we don't agree. Pull policies apart - not the person. If we work out our disappointment in this way, we show a bad example of how we deal with that disappointment.
Statements that say we are disappointed with friends who voted a different way are not a good example either. Let’s teach our young people a positive example of how to engage with politics, to encourage them to have their own views, even if we disagree. I’m not saying we don’t discuss them or challenge why they hold them - challenging can both reinforce and change opinion, and give a good example of how to debate - it just needs to be done well.
I have good friends who voted both ways. They are still good friends.
Even before the vote I saw Christians making the referendum more about the characters in the story than the policies behind the characters. I saw it on both sides of the debate: “I don’t want this person in control because… (too posh, not posh enough, private education, not educated enough, don’t like what they did at that point etc). This was an awful example for our young people in how to engage with politics.
Now is our chance to put this right with our young people. To own up and say that some of our actions have not been helpful. To say sorry if our actions have caused confusion or fear.
No matter what our view - give time for our young people to work through their disappointment and fears, or their reactions to those who are disappointed and fearful. Let us set the example for all.
Intergenerational church doesn’t work when we have a ‘me’ centred approach. It needs a ‘we’ centred goal. That means rising above how we feel about the vote to set the example on how we can now work together to the best of our ability, and to the Glory of God
A good example of this is a
Facebook prayer page I’ve been invited to - not set up to use prayer as an excuse to either gloat or to vent frustration, but to find ways to work together without bitterness.
If your church decides to hold a prayer meeting about the referendum results - invite your young people. They need it too.
Ask them to feed back how they feel about everything - allow them the space to be honest and then pray with them.