LeaderLines – from Hillcrest Baptist Church, Austin, Texas  Contact Tom Goodman, Pastor
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“Hillcrest Generations: Senior Adults”
by Tom Goodman
December 9, 2004

Watch out!  This edition of LeaderLines includes a homework assignment!

Unlike a lot of start-up churches in Austin that target a single generation, Hillcrest has the joy and burden of serving four generations.  A multi-generational church gives you the chance to learn from the insights and experiences of those who are younger and those who are older than you are.  At the same time, leaders in a multi-generational church face some unique challenges when trying to arrange activities, budgets, and worship services!  Last week I introduced you to some factors that influence how young adults see the world (represented by the following Bible Study departments*: Singles 1, Adult 1 and Adult 2).  This week, let’s look at some factors that influence how senior adults see the world (represented by our Adult 5 and 6 departments).

Now, I need your help—especially from those of you in your 40s and 50s (the Singles 2, Adult 3, and Adult 4 departments).  Last week’s newsletter on how young adults see the world was taken from an article on the Internet.  This week’s newsletter on how senior adults see the world was taken from a flyer I had on file.  I can’t pull up a list called “How Median Adults See the World,” because it doesn’t exist!  After reading the lists from last week and this week, help me come up with a similar list for those in their 40s and 50s!  (How about, “Pong was our Christmas status toy,” or “We came of age when computer floppies were actually floppy” or “Instant Messenger was the name of a downtown delivery service.”  Hey, if you don’t like those, then send me some of your own!)

Here’s a great description of the world as our wonderful seniors see it.  It’s been passed around in so many versions that no one knows who originally wrote it:

For Those Born Before 1945:  We are Survivors!
We were born before television, before penicillin, polio shots, frozen foods, Xerox, plastics, contact lenses, videos, frisbees and the pill.  We were born before radar, credit cards, split atoms, laser beams and ball point pens, before dish washers, tumble dryers, electric blankets, air conditioners and before man walked on the moon.
We got married first and then lived together (how quaint can you be?).  We thought “fast food” was what you eat at Lent, and a “Big Mac” was an oversized raincoat.  We existed before computer dating and dual careers, and when a “meaningful relationship” meant getting along with cousins.  Back then, “Made in Japan” meant junk.  We hit the scene where there were 5 and 10 cent stores—which is where you bought things for five and ten cents.  For one nickel you could ride a street car, make a phone call, buy a Pepsi, or enough stamps to mail one letter and two postcards.  You could buy a new Chevy coupe for $600 . . . but who could afford one?  A pity too, because gas was 11 cents a gallon.
Rock music was a grandma's lullaby, gay meant happy, queer mean strange and AIDS were helpers in the principal's office.  In our time, closets were for clothes, not for “coming out of.”
We were before day-care centers, nursing homes and disposable diapers.
We never heard of FM radio, tape decks, word processors, computers, yogurt, and men wearing earrings.  A chip was a piece of wood or a fried potato, hardware meant nails and screws, and software had not been heard of.
“Making out” referred to how you did in exams, stud was something that fastened a collar to a shirt and “going all the way” was staying on the bus to the depot.  Pizzas and takeaways were unheard of.  Cigarette smoking was fashionable, “grass” was mown, “coke” was a cold drink, and “pot” was something we cooked in.
We were certainly not before the difference between the sexes was discovered, but we were surely before the sex change; we made do with what we had.  And we were the last generation that was so dumb as to think you needed a husband to have a baby.
It’s an interesting set of perspectives, especially when you compare them to the perspectives from young adults in last week’s LeaderLines.  Let’s pray for those who lead our ministries to senior adults, and let’s express appreciation for the many seniors who are in places of service all throughout our church.

As Hillcrest Leaders, it’s important that you keep in mind the things the generations have in common and the things that make the generations different.  It will make you wiser in evaluating changes, how fast we should make changes, and why we need to make them.

If you’re in your 40s and 50s, don’t forget to send me your suggestions of experiences and perspectives unique to our generation.  Write me at tom@hbcaustin.org!


* Last week I erroneously included the College department in the “young adult” category.  While our college students are adults, they are the oldest edge of a generation that includes our teens.  More on this in a later edition of LeaderLines.

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