Guest post written by: Kenneth E. Angel
What will it take to have a culture shift spiritually, theologically, and generationally in the American church? The first thing, it will take is an awakening, and not just an awakening to the voice of God but also an awakening to the cries of His children. In his book Father Cry, Dr. Billy Wilson writes about a global spiritual phenomenon that is taking place throughout the body of Christ. What is that cry? “It is a cry for God, a cry for His Word, and a cry for spiritual fathers and mothers.” Where is this cry coming from? It is coming from a generation of younger believers who feel orphaned, abandoned, and uncovered by the older generation. Who are spiritual fathers and mothers? According to Wilson they are “Christian adults who mentor younger generations in what [he] calls intergenerational mentoring.”
The question is not whether the younger generation of believers in the American Church is crying out for spiritual fathers and mothers. The question is what will the older generation do about it? Will we awaken to their cries for spiritual fathers and mothers and respond with what Wilson calls “intergenerational mentoring,” or will we ignore their cries and go back to sleep? If we, the older generation of believers in the American Church, fail to awaken to this cry we could not only miss the opportunity to transfer the truths of the Christianfaith and practice on to our sons and daughters, but we will also lose the greatest harvest of our lifetimes.
As a Senior Pastor and father of three young-adult children, I have heard this “father cry” first hand. However, hearing their cry and having a desire to respond are not enough reason to get involved in intergenerational mentoring—one must be called to it. I truly believe that I have heard the voice of God calling me into this ministry of intergenerational mentoring. But how does one get started? It starts with a strong Biblical understanding that God is a generational God. Followed by a practical theology of what intergenerational mentoring should look like in the local church.
Although, there are several good models from which to draw, including Moses and Joshua and Elijah and Elisha, the model that stands out to me is that of Peter and John and how they ran together to the empty tomb (John 20:4-8).
4 So they both ran together, and the other disciple [John] outran Peter and came to the tomb first. 5 And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed.
In the above passage we see how God paired the speed and energy of John (who was younger) with the wisdom and discernment of Peter (who was older). God is a generational God and He desires the generations to run together, just like Peter and John. However, running to the empty tomb is not the only place we see Peter and John running together. This model of intergenerational mentoring can be also be seen as they tarried in the upper room waiting for spiritual empowerment (Acts 1 and 2), as they ministered to the lame man outside the temple at the beautiful gate (Acts 3), in their defense of themselves before the Sanhedrin after the man was healed (Acts 4), and in their travel to Samaria to establish the new believers there in the faith, praying for them to receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 8).
What will it take for us, the American church to have a culture shift spiritually, theologically, and generationally? It will take an awakening. It will take the older generation of believers awakening to the “father cry” of the younger generation, as well as to the voice of God. It will also take a commitment to an intergenerational mentoring program where both generations learn to run together in life and ministry.
Kenneth E. Angel, MAPT
Abba’s House Worship Center
622 North Townsend Ave.
Ada, Oklahoma 74820
Practical Ministry Solutions, Inc.