What is a generational mashup? It happens when generations collide and integrate. We now have three generations that can likely thrive together. This wasn’t the case with previous generations. Baby Boomers had a much less affinity with their parents than generations today. In fact Gen Y’ers today enjoy the interaction with Boomers. They to a great extent share the same worldview with their older grandparents in the boomer generation and their parents and older brothers and sisters in the Gen X cohort. And so we have a mashup. A collision, if you will, in the workplace and in non-profits and churches as well.
Let me illustrate some of the compatibility if I can with a negative illustration.
Bob Dylan has long been a musical hero of mine. I had a rare opportunity to see Bob in concert in a beautiful venue in Washington State called the “Gorge.” It has a magnificent view behind and around the stage. The setting on the steep hills above the Columbia Gorge near Quincy, Washington was majestic in the glow of a setting Sun.
Bob was in rare form that night. He had G.E. Smith from Saturday Night live as his music director. The band was tight. And Bob was on. I had seats with my brother on the tenth row. And we were enthralled with the evening.
There were three generations of a family that sat right next to us. We were on the aisle. There they were grandma and grandpa (my generation), mom and dad and older teenagers. I didn’t pay much attention to them but into about the second half of Bob’s set, they offered me a toke off of a marijuana joint. I politely said I was fine. And they proceeded to pass it among the family. These were clearly upper-middle-class folks. They had no hesitancies about getting high together after all they were family.
What struck me about this scene is it didn’t seem that unusual or hard to grasp. I couldn’t see my grandparents passing joints around the family circle. In my day, plenty of joints were passed around but never cross-generationally.
What was happening? Three generations here shared a common worldview and experience.
The sitcom “Parenthood” that came out in 2010 presents the same picture. There are three generations sharing a common experience and worldview. The grandparents are people from the sixties. The children are from the 70’s, and the grandkids are products of the eighties and nineties. They share life together. Outside some age-chronological differences, they are comfortable with each other. It is a story about generations and how generations live together in our post-modern world. This is a theme our culture is identifying with. But will the church?
This is the first time in a while in our history as a culture that several generations have shared so much in common. It is clear that Gen Y loves their Boomer sages. And Gen Xers seem to appreciate the help with their broods. Three generations long to work and thrive together.
The church is facing this challenge and a fantastic opportunity with three generations in tow.
Reaping the rewards of this time isn’t easy. It isn’t age that is the issue but worldview. The church has thought generationally and aged for a long while. But today age has never meant less. The big divider is the gulf between a post-modern influenced world-view and the modern worldview. The culture of the fifties and sixties is gone. There remains one of the last vestiges of those who still remember black and white television. Churches are too segmented. Generations long to integrate and belong together.