The Power of Intergenerational Mentorship

Shaping the Next Generation in the Local Church

December 11, 2023

In the heart of every thriving, local church, there lies a powerful and often untapped resource: The wisdom and experience of its older members. 

Intergenerational mentorship, the practice of older generations guiding and nurturing the younger, is a vital tool in shaping the next generation of church leaders and members. It is a model that fosters unity, encourages spiritual growth, and ensures the continuity of the church’s mission, values, and the future.

The importance of intergenerational mentorship within the local church cannot be overstated. It provides the younger generation with a sense of history and belonging, while also giving them the tools they need to navigate their spiritual journey. 

For the older generation, it offers an opportunity to share their wisdom, experiences, and faith, thus creating a sense of purpose and fulfillment. 

Craig Groeschel says that culture is what we allow or what we create. It is vitally important for churches to grow in the next 10 years by becoming a place that the next generation love to be at and get invested into. The time is now for the church to become a place that’s not separated by generations within it, but is integrated with the generations that are within it. This is the culture we MUST create for the church to become mature, not lacking history, and creating a sense of belonging. 

So, what could we do practically and what are some ways I have been thinking, ideating on, and dreaming about the church to become a place that mentorship is not an afterthought but the first thought? Check out the information below for some practical ideas we could implement today. 

One effective model for intergenerational mentorship is the “Mentorship Circle.” This model involves creating small groups within the church, each consisting of members from different generations. These circles meet regularly for discussions, Bible studies, and shared activities. The older members act as mentors, providing guidance and support, while the younger members bring fresh perspectives, energy, and ideas to create the future. 

To create a church that embraces intergenerational mentorship, several steps can be taken:

1. Promote a Culture of Mentorship

The church leadership should actively promote the importance of mentorship, encouraging older members to take on mentorship roles and younger members to seek out mentors.

2. Create Opportunities for Interaction

Regular events and activities that bring together different generations can foster relationships. This could be through shared meals, community service projects, or joint Bible study groups.

3. Provide Training

Provide training for mentors to equip them with the skills they need to guide and support their mentees effectively. This could include workshops on active listening, empathy, and constructive feedback.

4. Recognize and Celebrate Mentorship

Regularly acknowledge and celebrate the efforts of mentors and the achievements of mentees. This not only encourages continued participation but also highlights the value of mentorship to the wider church community. People often say that without vision, people perish. What does it look like to cast vision over and over and over again about who we are becoming? We must become a place that recognizes and celebrates intergenerational mentorship.

5. Encourage Mutual Learning

This does not get enough thought in today’s church and in our culture. It lowers the resistance in each generation while at the same time it fosters an environment where each generation positions their hearts to learn and gain wisdom from. While the traditional view of mentorship involves an older person guiding a younger one, it’s important to emphasize that mentorship is a two-way street. Older members can learn a lot from the younger generation, such as new ways of thinking or technological skills.

Intergenerational mentorship within the local church is more than just a program or initiative. It’s a way of life that reflects the biblical principle of “iron sharpening iron.” By embracing this model, we can create a vibrant, unified, and forward-thinking church that nurtures and empowers the next generation. 

Intergenerational mentorship within the church holds immense power in shaping the spiritual journey of individuals and the collective faith community. It bridges the gap between generations, fostering a deep sense of unity, continuity, and mutual respect. 

The older generation, with their wealth of wisdom and experience, provides guidance, support, and a sense of historical perspective. The younger generation, in turn, infuses the church with fresh ideas, energy, and a forward-looking vision. This reciprocal relationship not only strengthens individual faith but also fortifies the church’s overall spiritual health. It ensures the preservation of core values, traditions, and teachings while simultaneously encouraging growth, innovation, and adaptability. The power of intergenerational mentorship, therefore, lies in its ability to create a vibrant, resilient, and future-ready church community. 

So, we should become a place, a community, a church, and an organization that holds this as vitally important for the local church to become all it can be and to see the next generation truly find belonging by the belief we carry for them. 

My prayer for you today is that you would find three young leaders and take them out for coffee, learn from them, get to know them, and become the culture that you want carried out within your church. All great things start small. So, start small and see what God could do through you as you live out these practices and implement intergenerational mentorship within your community.

Aaron Barnett

Aaron Barnett

Aaron Barnett is the director of strategy and partnerships at Generation Distinct where, together with his wife Hannah, he equips the next generation to discover the wrong they were born to make right and experience who Jesus really is. They use the topics of purpose, passion and justice to bring the next generation into conversations about Jesus, the gospel, and the Great Commission. Aaron is also a content specialist for Exponential and a director for Generation Next through Leadership Network. Aaron is deeply passionate about the local church and has spent years in youth ministry and now invests into churches around the country as a traveling speaker and leader. Aaron has a passion to unleash the unique calling in each person, helping both individuals and organizations go from where they are to where they could be.
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