Bridging the Generation Gap with Stories

It has been over a year since we first began talking about Growing Young at NYI Leadership Conference 2017. The following post from Fuller Youth Institute highlights the second Growing Young Commitment: Empathize with Young People. For more information, check out the free Growing Young Conversation Toolkit

Written by Caleb Roose:

In a country starkly divided over political and social issues, it can be easy to vilify those with whom we disagree. Being civil, let alone empathetic scarcely crosses many of our minds.

Some of the current generational divides can feel just as polarized. From YouTube videos such as “Millennial International,” to the heated #HowToConfuseAMillennial Twitter war between Baby Boomers and Millennials, intergenerational ministry can feel nearly impossible.

In a world so divided, how can we, as ministers of the gospel, bridge the gap?

One possible answer is to leverage the power of stories. By experiencing others’ stories, whether through listening, sharing, reading, or watching a film, those from different generations can gain empathy for one another. For example, Pixar’s Up invites us to empathize with Carl, a retired widower whose love for life has all but vanished. At the outset of the film, it is easy to dismiss Carl as a stereotypical “grumpy old man.” However, the heartbreaking montage of his former married life allows viewers to understand and empathize with Carl on a much deeper level.

By engaging with stories, we can begin to relate to those who are not necessarily like us. Relating to others leads to empathy, and empathy has the potential to turn judgment into hospitality.


Fuller Youth Institute