Have you ever thought about the generations? Or even better yet, have you ever thought about what God thinks about the generations? I served as a girls’ minister for nineteen years, and I thought I consider the generations, but one year, I had a come-to-Jesus moment about generations, and my heart was forever changed.
I will never forget the day I led the worst girls’ leadership meeting I had ever led. It was 2015, and to be fair, I didn’t know whom I was leading, although I sure thought I did. I knew I was leading girls from my church as we organized our girls’ retreat as I had done for the last several years. However, something went horribly wrong from the moment I gave them assignments. I went to get them some special desserts from our cafe (because who doesn’t want that when they are working on girls’ retreat planning?). As I walked in with the platter of treats, the blood rushed from my face as I saw the girls grouped around my whiteboard erasing my plans. I calmly said, “What’s going on, girls?” One girl boldly spoke for the rest, “No offense, but we’re going a different direction.”
Maybe you’ve been there too. No offense?! Of course there has been an offense! I am the leader, and you are not being led! I said these words in my head, but thankfully, they did not spill out of my mouth. The rest of the meeting was a blur to me, but I do remember that all of us felt extremely exhausted. Nothing was accomplished as the tug-of-war between the girls and me was constant.
As I drove home that afternoon, I was an emotional wreck. I flip-flopped between crying and screaming at God. Sometimes it was about the girls; sometimes it was about me, but somewhere in-between, I began to get scared that I was no longer equipped to lead these girls. I began to believe that I was too old. I began to surrender and give up. And while I was deciding to quit discipling girls, the Lord stepped in and quietly whispered a question in my heart that began a new work within me. He lovingly sidestepped my resignation letter and re-invigorated me with a love for the girls He had placed in my path. The question He whispered to me was simply this: “What generation is this?”
God loves the generations.
I began a new adventure of understanding how much God cares about generations. I started studying what He says in His Word about the generations. He used this verse to change me heart: “One generation will declare your works to the next and will proclaim your mighty acts” (Ps. 145:4).
I had always thought about discipleship in terms of family units, but it hit me that God wants the generations to declare and proclaim to the next generation. I believe that our family programming is intentional for the developmental stages from newborn to adults in terms of discipleship, but are we intentional with a generational equipping? I began to understand that God loves people of every age and stage, and that looking at them generationally is important in learning to love and disciple them too.
You are not too old.
“So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come” (Ps. 71:18, ESV).
There has been a lot of generational hate and bad-mouthing over the years. Gen Z, Millennials, and even the older generations have said “OK boomer.” Gen Z has offended Millennials for their comments on trends that came before them. How you part your hair to how you had a better childhood because you didn’t grow up with phones are all areas that have been a battleground for generations through the recent years.
And as a Gen X member, I want to cheer on the generations above and below me. Why? Because God loves them and has uniquely made them for a specific time and a specific purpose. We are not too young, and we are not too old to love and disciple the generations around us. But we need to begin asking the Lord to show us how to love and disciple them.
What if we began to approach generations as a missionary approaches a different culture? What if instead of distancing ourselves from them and creating pockets where we just hang out with people that are just like us, we began to cross over into their spaces and learn to lead the way they respond to leadership?
That was what the Lord taught me with Gen Z. After that horrific meeting with the teenage girls I mentioned above, I began to discover they weren’t Millennials at all. These girls were Generation Z. They looked a lot like Millennials, but they responded differently to the way I led. There are a few different studies for when generations start and stop, but I have found that the data from Mark McCrindle has lined up best with what I have seen over the last several years of working with girls.
Here is a generation cheat sheet I made to help me remember.
So, what’s next?
As you have read this article, you may begin to feel overwhelmed with how to reach the generations around you. The first step is to pray and ask God to show you the generations.
He loves them because they are made by Him, and who better to show you how to reach the generations than the One who created them.
Ask Him how He designed them to be led.
Ask Him to help you step into their spaces and places.
Begin to study them and pray for them as the Lord gives you a heart for them.
And most importantly, don’t quit. That’s exactly what Satan wants us to do. He wants us to stop proclaiming and declaring the works of God to the next generation, but that’s not what we are called to do.
Begin meeting with the ones the Lord calls you to. Begin spending time with the people who are from the generations you are feeling called to. Ask questions to determine what they need from other generations or what they want to give to other generations. Ask them what breaks their hearts. Ask them what they feel purposed for. Ask them if you can pray for and with them.
As you begin to develop a relationship with the generations, look for ways to connect your conversations with Jesus. Look for ways to “Psalm 145:4” them.
And, as you go to the generations, remember He is the One who will help you reach them, see them, love them, and know them. Get ready! It’s an adventure you won’t forget when you seek to become a missionary to the generations.
Amy-Jo Girardier is the Women’s Minister at Brentwood Baptist in Brentwood, TN. In addition to women’s ministry, she resources moms, and youth workers engaged in the girls ministry conversation on her blog, www.girlsminister.com. She is also the author of the two biblestudy and DVD teaching series: Authentic Love and Faithful One.
Amy-Jo loves Jesus more than anything else! She loves talking about generations, technology, drinking coffee, running, serving on staff with her husband Darrel, wordle, and hanging out with her sons Scout and Skylar.
You can find her on instagram: @amyjogirardier.