Can we learn anything from the Leno-Conan thing for the church?

It’s good to know that the church isn’t the only place with generational battles.  A 60 year old boomer doesn’t think that he should have to retire yet.  After all, 60 is the new 50, or some similar poor arithmatic.

His Gen X heir apparent is tired of waiting. After all, he’s in his 40’s.  Why would anyone need to work longer than that to get what he wants (and expects)?

I’m not saying that either Jay or Conan is right.  I don’t know enough about it, or if Hollywood even has categories for “right” and “wrong.” (Those are so Middle America.)

What I am saying is that this conflict is happening (and will continue to happen) across the country in businesses and non-profits, and especially in churches.  As a generation, boomers are redefining how old someone can be “cool,” and seem to be pre-occupied with clinging to this status as long as possible. Combine this with longer life expectancy and 2009’s evacuation of retirement accounts, and boomers aren’t going to be leaving the stage at the same age their parents did.

The problem is that Gen X’ers are a generation weaned on immediate gratification.  The general response of Gen X’ers (whether on twitter, facebook, etc) to the late night battle is that Conan is vindicated and that Leno should just retire already, old man.   And, if he won’t, Conan should just take his ball and leave.

Anyone see similarities to church life?  Unfortunately, we too often look like the world around us.  Hence the rise of the mono-generational church.  But what if the church was conspicuously different from the world?  What if we didn’t cling to power, but delighted in seeing younger leaders get the credit?  Conversely, what if we honored the past and sought ways to point to what God is still doing through all generations?

The late night problem is endemic of generational friction between boomers and Gen X’ers, but the church doesn’t need to be like everyone else.  There is hope.  After all, the millennial generation (in this case, Jimmy Fallon) figures that the future is on the internet, anyways.

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