Coronavirus cases are on the rise again across the UK. A third of all cases in England have been people aged 20-29. With a new term taking young people back to the classroom, parents back to the school run and two million students to university, social contact amongst younger generations is only going to increase.

In the last few weeks young people and young adults have been specifically addressed by government and media and warned to behave responsibly. The warnings may be valid and appropriate but all to easily slide into blame and accusation.

Jesus’ prayer for His church was that we would be one (John 17:23). When we think of unity, we often think across denominational lines or geographical regions. In recent years we have seen beautiful and timely expressions of unity with Christians coming together to work together for the good of the towns and cities they represent. Huge strides have been taken to unite the church across different ethnicities and backgrounds, including through the Evangelical Alliance’s One People Commission.

Division will find its way into all spheres of society. Whilst nothing new (Hesiod complained about how badly behaved the youth were in eighth century BC), the generations are emerging again as an increasingly hostile battlefield. A subtle narrative of the Brexit fallout was the claim that older people were stealing the future’ of young people. This latest episode of singling out certain age groups for the spread of coronavirus could create more fissures.

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One of the most beautiful things about the church is that people of all backgrounds, ethnicities, stories and ages join together to be united in faith. In Christ there is not toddler or teenager, elderly or early years – all are one in Christ Jesus. 

This vision of the church is worth pursuing. The psalmist declares that, One generation commends your works to another” (Psalm 145:4). The church is only ever one generation away from extinction if we fail to pass on the baton of faith. And considering that 72 per cent of Christians make decisions to follow Jesus before the age of 20, this vision has to drive our missional thinking as well.

In light of all this, let’s consider these questions as a church:

  • How can we fight the divisive narrative to show and tell a better story to the world: of generations flourishing, learning from and empowering one another?
  • As we reimagine church in light of limited physical gatherings, how do we ensure all generations are listened to, included and involved? How might we take this opportunity to create a culture where younger generations can belong more naturally?
  • What do intergenerational mentoring relationships look like during this time? How might increased presence in the digital space make these easier?

Unity between the generations really matters. It’s worth fighting for. May we be a church that seeks to honour, encourage and empower all ages and displays a generational unity that tells a different story and invites a watching world to join the family. 

One of the most beautiful things about the church is that people of all backgrounds, ethnicities, stories and ages join together to be united in faith.