Churches have always struggled with generational changes. The rate of change in the last fifty years has only exacerbated that tension. Pre-boomers, baby boomers, gen Xers and Millenials present a phenomenal range of perceptions and world views in regards to religion.
Bridging Divided Worlds presents an enormous study of congregational trends in the United States regarding the unities and disunities of generational realities in American churches…
…The authors, Jackson Carroll (professor or religion at Duke) and
Wade Roof (professor of religous studies at the University of
California/Santa Barbara), call on their expertise in congregational
history and trends to portray the generational divides faced by many
churches today. They address the obstacles towards intergenerational
participation in ministry and reciprocity of leadership and present the
various ways that congregations opt to blend or segregate the age
groups. Carroll and Roof offer empathetic and also directly
challenging insight into each generation's approach to church life.
Their study critiques North American trends towards inherited
environments, blended services, and generation-specific congregations.
Carroll and Roof note that every group has to one degree or another an inherent history and tradition. As new people come in and as culture evolves, tensions inevitable arise "because the legacy of the past continues to inform the present life of the congregation, [but] inherited patterns make adaption and change difficult" (91). Ultimately, what the authors seek is not just "what kind of continuing adaptation is necessary but also what is possible given a congregation's history and present makeup. How can a tradition, of which the congregation is a bearer, remain a living tradition, connected with the personal narratives and experiences of new generations as well as the older cohorts in their midst?" (91).
From social grouping theories to theological influences upon the purpose of a local church, Bridging Divided Worlds provides an invaluable resource and engaging foundation for those
seeking to comprehend the tensions between generations in local
churches across America.
Carroll, Jackson W. and Wade Clark Roof. Bridging Divided Worlds: Generational Cultures in Congregations (Jossey-Bass, San Fransisco, 2002), 268 pages.