Psalm 145:4: “One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.”
Last week, my high school girls’ discipleship group decided to meet in a local coffee shop instead of our usual location. We spent time catching up, praying for one another, and digging into our study book.
As we were wrapping up, two women who looked to be in their mid 70s approached our table. Because I have had many unconventional conversations with strangers in this particular coffee shop, I was a little hesitant as I saw them walking up to us. I was skeptical of what they may say and nervous of what my students would think.
The minute they started speaking, however, I was immediately convicted for judging these ladies. I began to praise God for arranging this divine appointment.
“It is just so encouraging to see young women praying!” they said enthusiastically. We then began what became a 20-minute conversation on following Jesus and living faithfully in our culture.
We ended up getting phone numbers and talking about getting together sometime. I thanked one of the ladies for coming to our table and she said with a smile, “We’re family.”
We left our discipleship group that day with full hands of Twix bars (a gift from one of our new friends), and full hearts at how the Lord provided this time of mutual encouragement between complete strangers. Strangers, separated by about 50 years of age… yet family.
Intergenerational praise in Psalm 145
Before Covid-19, a lot of us barely knew what Zoom was. Now, it has become a part of our everyday vocabulary. We were already moving to a world where we had the option to do almost everything online. Now, that circle has broadened to not just shopping, dating, and connecting with others, but also to “attending church.”
Those who—like me—are full time employed at churches are encountering the hard task of encouraging people to see why coming back to church physically is not just beneficial, but also necessary.
There are plenty of resources devoted to the necessity of the physical church for our spiritual development, and many biblical reasons why coming back to church is important. One of these reasons is because all Christians of all ages desperately need each other to worship God and live out the gospel in our daily lives.
In Psalm 145, King David begins by bursting in praise to his God and King. He speaks of “extolling,” “blessing,” and “praising” God. This is a personal, heartfelt devotion to God. Yet notice how quickly David takes his personal praise of God’s greatness to a corporate approach. Verse 4 reads:
“One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.”
David sees that praising God is not something that is merely meant to be done exclusively in his own little corner. It is meant to be done with others, and as we see in this verse, particularly those of different generations.
As David recalls God’s grandeur, he cannot hold it in. This praise naturally bursts out of him, encouraging those of all ages to do the same. This is the model that we are to take on as the local church.
Praising God alone is beautiful- yet, it is only a facet of the diamond that is meant to be the full-embodied, gospel-centered community of real individuals, in real time. This is a taste of what heaven will be. Church is not meant to be an entertainment or something done at our convenience; it is meant to be our way of life. We are the church.
One of the most beautiful parts of God’s church is that it isn’t meant to be a select type of people who look, think, and act the same. The church is a group of all types of people, a family, of all ages. Not only that, but engaging intergenerationally in our churches is a beautiful way in which we can stand as lights in the world and live counter-culturally.
The Hodge-Podge Church
In their book Rediscover Church: Why the Body of Christ is Essential, Jonathan Leeman and Collin Hansen write that God “welcomes us into a home that’s rarely what we want yet just what we need.”
Leeman makes the point that “virtual church” may give us the gospel declared, but not the gospel displayed: a display that takes place as real Christians rub up against each other and play a vital part in each other’s sanctification just by living as a family.
Think of your family. If it is anything like mine, it is full of all different types of people: different ages, personalities, quirks, interests, beliefs, backgrounds, stories. Yet we are all connected by blood or marriage, and we all love each other because of it.
This is what the local church should be.
The truth is, we all need to be Titus 2 Christians- living the model of older women pouring into younger women, older men pouring into younger men, and vice versa. I desperately need my older sisters in the faith to impart their wisdom to me. They need me and my younger sisters in the faith to encourage them as well.
We need to do this for the sake of the lost world around us. In a culture where we are encouraged to look, think and act the same, the church stands as a counter-cultural beacon of light by uniting all types and ages of people in a beautiful community, all centered on Jesus. We may have nothing else in common, but we have his blood in common, and that is all that matters.
As youth workers, we need our students to know that they have a vital part to play in God’s Kingdom. They are a part of the body as much as a head pastor is. As we foster an environment where students’ spiritual gifts are used in tandem with other generations, we will show our students that they are needed in the body. Thus, church is not optional for them. Church is a way of life.
We may have nothing else in common but the life, death, and resurrection of Christ for us. But that is all we need. This is biblical unity. As we spend time to hear the stories of those in our church, younger and older, we will continue to foster the unity that God calls us to.
As we daily cultivate these relationships in our body, we will experience more encounters like my group was able to at the coffee shop. We will walk away being encouraged, and being encouragers. We will be the church.
Hansen, Collin, and Jonathan Leeman. Rediscover Church: Why the Body of Christ Is Essential (The Gospel Coalition and 9Marks). Crossway, 2021.