Ethan Welch, a planting pastor in North Carolina, talks about how he approached addressing different generations in his congregation. Each of us has an impact on one another. 

Pursuing a multigenerational congregation

by Yana Conner, Collegiate Partnerships Team

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

I moved to North Carolina in 2010 and since then I’ve been a part of two Southern Baptist Convention churches. The first, a predominantly black church committed to biblical exposition and living together as family. The second, a fairly diverse church plant committed to disciple-making and gospel renewal in our city. I loved being a part of both of these churches, which is why I found it difficult to leave the first.

The average age of that congregation was 55 and though I was thankful to be in community with people who had walked with Jesus much longer than me, I also needed to be in community with people who were in my similar stage of life. 

After seeking counsel from my pastor, we agreed that I should transition. As you can imagine, I went looking for a church full of people who were my age. Initially, it was great! 

We were a group of people in our 20s and 30s filled with optimism about reaching the city of Raleigh with the gospel. Yet, we lacked experience and often longed for the presence and wisdom of older men and women of faith.

One day I thought to myself, “Man, if we could just put these two churches together, we would be complete. We would be multiethnic and multigenerational.”

Isn’t this what God desires? 

Over the years, many have put emphasis on the need for churches to reflect the ethnic diversity that we will experience in the new heaven and the new earth. However, God’s future kingdom is not only the coming together of every ethnic group, but also within this great congregation of saints, one generation will proclaim to another generation the goodness of our great God.

God’s future kingdom is instructive to us. It points us to what God desires to be reflective of His Church. Red, yellow, forty, twenty, seventy, black and white.

In Philippians 1:27, Paul exhorts believers to “just one thing.” He writes, “Just one thing: As citizens of heaven, live your life worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or am absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, in one accord, contending together for the faith of the gospel…”

Paul believes that the best way for God’s people to life worthy of the gospel is to live a life together for the sake of the gospel. Yet, we naturally tend to gravitate away from the things that are different from us and cling to what is comfortably like us.

How do we start to move away from this natural tendency and move towards Paul’s “just one thing?” 

For every church in North Carolina, the process of moving toward a local gathering of God’s people that is multiethnic and multigenerational will look different. Each church has a different starting point and different opportunities it can leverage. Each church will also have its own set of hurdles. It will be hard, but isn’t the gospel worthy of it?

And, your friends at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina are here to help!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Yana Conner serves as a consultant for the Collegiate Partnerships Team with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.