Breaking Through the Generational Barrier – “Heart-to-Heart: Loving Church” Series

Lily Ma

Every generation was born and raised in their own environment and therefore, each generation’s expectations and attitudes toward life will not be the same. These differences will inevitably cause tension in a close relationship, such as between coworkers and family. The relationship will be worsened, or even damaged, if cultural backgrounds and ways of addressing differences are involved. All these are real and understandable; however, it will take empathy, wisdom, and skills to tackle the situation.

I have been serving with Presence for over 10 years. I can testify that a lot of the ministries at Presence involve investing in the lives of young people, which is closely related to the issue of intergenerational relationships. It is an issue that cannot be tackled by one organization, but by collaboration between church ministries and parents’ support. Presence’s recent “Healthy Dialogue” Series is a program designed to use this collaborative concept to help young people. Through the program, we hope that middle-aged parents, young youth ministry mentors, and youth that are in their developmental stages can have a better understanding of each other, which promotes communication and encourages tolerance, ultimately strengthening their relationships. Through the feedback from churches and participants, we can see how God has been gradually working in people’s lives. Below is a testimony about the program by Jenny, the Director of Children & Youth Ministry of Bread of Life Christian Church in Chino:

Our church used 2 series of the Healthy Dialogue Training Program – Parents and Youth, and Parents and Youth Workers. The participants perceived it as a very good and practical program. Here is a summary of the positive aspects:

1. Each video is short, about 20 to 30 minutes. Participants can learn at their own pace without any pressure.

2. The program covers Eastern and Western cultural differences, which helps different generations understand each other’s background and address some barriers in communication.

3. The program encourages interaction. It is a joy to see that after the training, our youth ministry workers, who are in their 20s, have a better understanding of their roles as a bridge between youth and their parents. They are willing to take the initiative to connect and work with parents, and the effects are better than they imagined. Parents are also encouraged to help fine tune each other’s skills in getting along with the next generation by sharing how they apply the communication skills from the program.

Has a conversation with your children ever ended badly because of a misunderstanding? Do you find it hard to make sense of the things that your children value, their lifestyle, and how they use their time? Have they ever said anything that hurt your feelings? Do you feel that no matter how hard you love them, there is still a barrier? You are not alone if you can somehow identify with these questions because generational communication is not always smooth and without roadblocks. However, instead of getting frustrated, you can choose to be more open-minded, willing to listen and learn, wait for the opportunity to arise, or even restore the relationship. We hope that Presence’s “Healthy Dialogue” Series will bring hope and inspiration to break through generational barriers.

Presence Hong Kong Limited is a non-profit organization that has supported Christian and family values since 2003. We aim to raise up a new generation for the cultural mission — equip individuals and families to bridge the cultural and generational gaps and to live a unique life with wisdom. 

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In Asian-American families, the cultural differences between the younger and the older generations have led to differences in their core values; consequently, conflicts in communication arise. This course, “Healthy Dialogue”, helps parents and youth understand their responsibilities and roles, and provides two-way boundaries and communication guidelines between youth and parents as well.