132 times! That’s the number of times the Bible uses the phrase “one another.” God has always expected his people to know, love and respect “one another.” For those in the church, this means we understand the generations. In doing so we’ll “have the same care for one another” (1 Cor. 12:25) and we’ll seek to better understand the generational differences that naturally exists among us.
Counting all who have been born and who are alive today, technically there may be as many as seven generations. The two youngest, Generations Z and Alpha, have not yet reached an age of maturity where much can be said about them. That leaves 5 others who are typically divided into the four major generations:
- Traditionalists (“The Greatest”) – 1901 – 1945
- Baby Boomers – 1946-1964
- Generation X (“Baby Busters”) – 1965-1984
- Millennials – 1985 – 2000
By simply outlining these generations it would seem there are differences…and there are. However, despite these differences, we are probably more alike than we think. Solomon affirms this is true in his observation about the rise and fall of generations in Ecclesiastes 1:4.
This lesson is about my generation – Generation X. Born from roughly 1965-1984, we are in our 30’s, 40’s and early 50’s. We are serving the church in many ways from being leaders to simply being people of strong convictions in the pew. Like all generations, we have our weaknesses, but we also believe we offer something significant. Perhaps we really are “the X Factor!”
CHARACTERISTICS OF GENERATION X
- We are SMALL: Other than the Greatest Generation that is declining sharply in number because of death, Generation X is the smallest generation because there was a sharp decline in birth rates beginning in the early 1960s. A number of social and spiritual reasons can be attributed to the decline in birth rates including divorce rates, increase in birth control, accessibility of college education for women, women’s “liberation,” abortion, and more women joining the workforce.
- We are SCARRED: Around 50% of us came from broken and blended families. Many were “latchkey” kids who came home from school to an empty house because both parents were working. This left a scar of wanting and desiring the intimacy that was missing from our lives. This is why “relationships” are important to our generation.
- We are SEARCHING: We were the first generation to have to navigate the Internet with all its wonder and weirdness. “Searching” took on new meaning with so much “information” that was suddenly at our fingertips. But the search for acceptance and relationships remained the most important search. This is why we desire our local churches to be “accepting” places before they become “expecting” places.
- We are SUBJECTIVE: Generation X was the first generation raised in a postmodern world. In general, we are very subjective. Generation X sees the “truth” the way they want to see the truth. As a whole, we don’t attend church as much as our parents and the excuse that is often raised is that church isn’t relevant. So, there’s been a strong push to make church more about relationships. But for those who believe truth is really objective, rather than subjective, we believe the best way to reach our generation is to develop relationships that allow us to show how truth as made a difference to us!
- We are SYNCED: Generation X is in a unique position. We are very plugged into our world. We are basically the middle generation from the two older than us and the two younger than us. Despite being small and sometimes overlooked, we believe we are ready to make a difference. We are matured and making a difference in the workforce (close to 70% of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are from Gen. X) and in the church! U.S. News and World Report labeled us “the fix-it generation.”
CAUTIONS FOR GENERATION X
- Resist generational tendencies that hurt the progress of the Gospel and the church. This is true of all generations. Gen. X must make sure we don’t allow how disappointments from broken homes, a pluralistic/subjective way of thinking about truth or the vast amount of information available to keep us from narrowing our search for truth.
- Remember generational warnings. Most of what is said in the N.T. about generations is a warning to not get caught up in the sinful, cultural flow that keeps us from following Christ (Matt. 12:39, Matt. 17:17, Acts 2:40, Phil. 2:15).
- Resolve our generation’s unsettled faith. Gen. X and Millennials are known for asking lots of questions, but we finally have to arrive at some answers. The Bible says faith is our foundation (Heb. 11:1). Our generation has seen the extremes of some acting like they know it all and those acting like they can know nothing at all. But faith helps us find the balance of knowing there’s a God, but not acting like we are him!
- Recognize the value of older generations. Youth often despise their elders. But the Bible teaches us to listen to them (Prov. 1). There is wisdom and freedom in submitting to those who are older!
- Restore when generations fail. If our generation is missing something important and people are searching for it, the church should be there to fill that needed void!
COMMON GROUND FOR ALL GENERATIONS
- God is our one and only God (Lam. 5:19, Matt. 4:10).
- The church is our one and only church (Dan. 4:3). If you are saved by Jesus, you have been added to his church. No matter your age you part of the church!
- Jesus is our one and only Savior and source of unity (Lk. 1:50, Gal. 3:28).