The Multigenerational Congregation: Meeting the Leadership Challenge

by Gilbert R. Rendle. Rowman & Littlefield, 2002.

Consultant Gil Rendle asserts that in the twenty-first century, multigenerational congregations can be successfully countercultural and serve many persons. To do so, they must 1) understand their situations and assumptions and 2) develop new skills to capitalize on their potential for health. Otherwise, the tendency to criticize the "other" generation can make a congregation feel like a car with two steering wheels, each attempting to steer the car in a different direction. Supporting his theme with “real life” examples, Rendle delineates a process for approaching multigenerational understanding. He suggests 'moving to the balcony' (taking time to reflect), 'working descriptively' (describing situations neutrally instead of blaming), 'seeking common space' (identifying values shared by generations) and 'installing civility' (being willing to put the other side first). While other authors have covered some of this material, Rendle expresses it clearly and concisely. His book would be valuable for both clergy and lay leaders to read, discuss in small group or workshop settings, and then apply within their congregations.