The Generation Gap Among Christian Women
Dear women of my generation,
How did there come to be such a divide between older and younger women in the church? How is it that today's generation of Christian women are more likely to list a celebrity like Angelina Jolie as their hero rather than a mentor, leader, or female friend in their own congregation? We, as Christian women over 40, have some work to do. The work I am referring to is about our call in building a close relationship with our younger sisters in Christ. We are being called to understand, learn, and listen to this next generation. Our authentic response will help more than we realize.
At a recent conference, I sat stone still as David Kinnaman, Barna Group president and author of You Lost Me, quoted one statistic after another about young people leaving the church and their low knowledge of Scripture. I prepared to hear the proverbial five steps to protect our children, students, and younger co-workers from the evils of today's Babylon, but Kinnaman said just the opposite.
"Let's take exiles more seriously. . .we're more like Mordechai than Esther; the younger generation needs a relationship to trust," he said, encouraging us to come alongside the young Christians so they can grow. The message to stop avoiding the fact that we live in Babylon was clear.
Honestly, I was relieved. I'd recently interviewed 20 women under 40, asking them about their spiritual lives, their faith, and their relationships with older Christian women. When I asked them to describe their spiritual lives, the majority said they pray constantly and want to be close to God, yet, they feel a distance. Then I asked, "Do you need to be in a relationship with an older Christian woman to grow spiritually?" Hands down, each one said, "Yes!" I listened with eagerness hoping to hear stories of older Christian women connecting with these young, dynamic women. I was not, however, prepared for what these young, educated and professional Christian women told me: There's a distance between us and them.
Like many women our age, we're living with the daily disconnect between the generations' spiritual lives. It's real. Barna found that two-thirds of evangelical women over 40 describe themselves as deeply spiritual compared to about half of those under 40.
We, as an older generation, have a depth of faith to offer this younger generation of women, who want to grow spiritually and want relationships with women in the church. It's complicated, the relationship part.