Bridging Divided Worlds: Generational Cultures in Congregations

Carroll, Jackson W. and Wade Clark Roof. Bridging Divided Worlds: Generational Cultures in Congregations. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2002.

Carroll and Roof’s book probed the cultural differences between generations of Americans, and explored the implications for congregational life. They divided Americans into three generations, by which life events, experiences, familial change, and religious identity shaped each group. By uncovering the generational identity differences, they showed the root of congregational divisions, and suggested ways in which churches could effectively promote community across generations. Carroll and Roof employed various methods for data gathering, narrowly focusing on congregational visits and interviews with leadership, and broadly using telephone surveys and interviews. They closely observed nine congregations between southern California and North Carolina to better understand the effectiveness of generational identity and ministry. Three congregations had a very strong religious identity; three focused their ministries on a specific generation (usually “Gen X”); and three worked at accommodating generational differences to promote community. Finally, they summarized the research data and congregational observations to assist churches in finding practical ways to engage the culture of each generation within the context of each church to bring generations together.(MG)