What does an ideal church look like in your mind? My version has the perfect blend of four generations, like most nuclear families do. A 4G church will have great-grandparents and toddlers loving each other without any trace of pretense.
If your church is a magnet for either younger or older people instead of both, I am writing this post for you. I have some experience in pastoring multi-generational (4G) churches, and have found that you will benefit from asking yourself these four questions:
Is every generation represented on our stage?
Whether your worship planning is done by staff, volunteers, or both, make sure the musicians and singers reflect the diversity in age and ethnicity that you want, not just the diversity that you have.
Don’t limit participation to music and preaching. Live and video testimonies are powerful, as are occasional scripture reading.The people on your stage will inevitably determine who will be in your seats.
If our churches don’t look somewhat like our communities, how are we being effective missionaries? This takes time and intentionality, so be patient and persistent with your vision. Start by getting the demographics of those who live within a five mile radius of your church so that your expectations are realistic.
Are our greeters representative of our membership?
I love it when a smiling six-year-old greets me at a church entrance. That impact doubles if his/her grandparent is also at the same door.
I’m not a big fan of matching shirts for greeters. Most generations thankfully do not dress the same outside of church, so why ask your volunteers to wear a uniform? Uniforms may be affecting your recruiting efforts.
The same goes with greeter tags. Do your guests really care what your greeter’s name is?
Are our oldest and youngest members treated like VIPs?
In my experience, guests are more interested in how you treat each other than how you treat them. They have learned to expect a hearty welcome and gift—possibly even a sweet parking spot.
What if your seniors and young mothers got VIP parking also? Why not also give the the best classrooms to those who are less mobile? God’s Word values the oldest and youngest people in society, so our churches should also.
Are we under-challenging any age group?
Most Millennials (born between 1980-2000) are community-centric, which means they want to change the world, starting in their own community. They have this in common with their grandparents and great-grandparents.
They also share a disdain for waste, so don’t expect to impress either generation with fancy facilities.
Pastors sometimes err by under challenging the youngest and oldest of the four generations. I recently heard Sunday school expert Allen Taylor challenge a group of teachers, “Don’t say ‘no’ for your members by refusing to ask them to serve.”
We all know that heaven will be a multi-generational family reunion. So why on earth should we have to wait?