Don Carson’s editorial in the new issue of Themelios is well worth a read.  He gives some great tips on how to limit generational conflict in ministry:

1. Listen to criticism in a non-defensive way.

2. Be prepared to ask the question, “What are we doing in our church, especially in our public meetings, that is not mandated by Scripture and that may, however unwittingly, be functioning as a barrier to getting the gospel out?”

3. Always focus most attention on the most important things, what Paul calls the matters of first importance—and that means the gospel, with all its rich intertwinings, its focus on Christ and his death and resurrection, its setting people right with God and its power to transform. So when we take a dislike of another’s ministry primarily because he belongs to that other generation, must we not first of all ask whether the man in question heralds the gospel? If so, the most precious kinship already exists and should be nurtured.

4. Work hard at developing and fostering good relations with those from the other generation.

The entire article is very much worth reading, no matter your age.  I think the fourth point is probably worth quoting at length:

This means meeting with them, even if, initially at least, you don’t like them.

It means listening patiently, explaining a different point of view with gentleness.

It means that the new generation of ministers should be publicly thanking God for the older ministers, praying for them with respect and gratitude; it means that the older generations of ministers should be publicly thanking God for the new generation, seeking to encourage them while publicly praying for them.

It means that ideally, disputes should be negotiated in person, winsomely, not by blogposts that are ill-tempered and capable of doing nothing more than ensuring deeper divisions by cheering on one’s supporters.

It means shared meals, shared prayer meetings, shared discussions.

It means younger men will seek out older men for their wisdom in a plethora of pastorally challenging situations; it means older men will be trying to find out what these younger men are doing effectively and well, and how they see the world and understand their culture in the light of Scripture.

It means that younger men will listen carefully in order better to understand the past; it means that older men will listen carefully in order better to understand the present.

It means humility of mind and heart, and a passion for the glory of God and the good of others.

Go check out the whole article.

Chris
cskidd1983@gmail.com
Married to the amazing Sarah and raising Jakey, Daniel, Amelia, Josh & Jonah in our blended family. Passionate for Jesus, social work & sport.

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