We have updated our Privacy Policy to provide you a better online experience.

Peninsular Florida District Helping Churches Close Generation Gap and Leave Pentecostal Legacy

A Peninsular Florida district leader is on a mission to bring generations together.
“Discipleship is the lost ministry of the church,” says Ken Pippin, director of Adult Ministries for the Peninsular Florida district. According to Pippin, intentional intergenerational solidarity is the key to a discipleship revival.

Serving as the district’s adult ministries director since 2014, Pippin quickly became aware of the generation gaps facing Florida churches. In fact, in 2016, Pippin and his wife took the director role as a full-time position due to the growing need for adult and senior ministries support in the state.

“Florida has the largest percentage of seniors of any state in the country,” he says, speaking of the state’s demographic which is made up of 20% of those 65 years old and over.

With 1,100 people moving to Florida every day, Pippin shares that if the generational make up remains consistent, that equates to 200 seniors relocating to this southern state daily.

Within months of assuming their full-time position, the Pippins noticed that AG churches in the district were reaching a critical state.

“Very few churches we visited had children or youth in attendance with even less having designated ministries for reaching this up-and-coming generation,” he states.

Desiring to close the generation gap, in 2022, Pippin began to feel the Lord telling him that churches needed to be more intentional in bringing generations back together.

While attending the Senior Adult Ministries conference in Branson, Missouri, that year, God confirmed this call to action in Pippin’s heart and he began to notice that God was stirring the hearts of many other adult ministry leaders in the same way.

“I went back and began moving our district in that direction,” Pippin reports. “I began talking to churches about it, examining facts and figures, and began mapping out ways to make that happen.”

What he found in a majority of churches was a total and deliberate separation of church attendees by age or worship styles.

While Pippin felt there was nothing inherently wrong with this, he noticed that there was no time designated to bring these two groups together so there could be back-and-forth mentoring.

“Kids need an opportunity to see adults worshipping, they need to grow up and know how adults interact in church,” he says. “It is so important for children to see their parents worshipping and how they express their relationship to God. Watching is how kids learn. We know that more is caught than taught.”

Pippin’s fear is that there is a lack of understanding of the cruciality of generations interacting with one another, not only for the younger generation’s sake but for the seniors as well.

In his decade of adult ministry, Pippin has seen that seniors feel less and less valued in the church and don’t realize their potential and ability for making an impact on the next generation.

“The biggest fear seniors have, even more than death, is that they will have no more opportunities in life,” he reports, “and churches have the ability to help them realize their value no matter what their age.”

Pippin states that some great ways for seniors to get involved in ministry are to tell their stories, sharing times when God helped them overcome a tough problem or times when they experienced God’s forgiveness for mistakes that they made. He goes on to say that the boomer generation is one that has likely seen more of the supernatural of God than any other generation.

“We actually saw the baptism of the Holy Spirit spread around the world in our generation,” he states.

In contrast, he believes that the next generation is the most open to things of the supernatural and the most hungry to experience it. The juxtaposition of these two generations, he states, is something only God could have done and something that must be taken advantage of.

For AG Senior Adult Ministries Leader Bob Cook, leaving a legacy of the testimony to God’s faithfulness began to burden him following the death of his father in 2010.

“I’m so thankful for the missionary heritage I come from,” Cook states. “I had grandparents who stayed true to God’s call, even despite terrible tragedy. And even though I knew the stories, there were parts I didn’t know but found myself unable to ask.”

This desire for better understanding as to his spiritual heritage began to cause Cook and his wife to reflect on how the hand of God had rested so heavily on their own lives. They knew they wanted their kids and grandkids to fully understand the faithfulness of God to their family, so they began to write down their story.

Their efforts culminated in a spiral bound book that detailed the family’s spiritual legacy and rich history of the faith. Complete with photographs, the book was then passed down to their kids and grandkids as a means of helping them understand where they had come from.

As he continues to encourage churches across the state of Florida, Pippin testifies that the most successful and fastest growing churches are those that have grabbed hold of this intergenerational concept and are working towards incorporating them with intentionality.

“I’m personally invested in this. I want my grandkids and great grandkids to have a Pentecostal experience but so many of our churches are dying from attrition,” says Pippin.

He encourages seniors to just start a conversation with someone from outside their generation. Purposefully talking, he believes, is what will start to bring the generations back together.

One such successful example was found in a Miami church within Pippin’s district that hosted a pizza luncheon for youth and seniors. According to Pippin, the church provided the food and sat the attendees at tables with three seniors and three youth each. The church then handed out questions that the seniors were to ask the youth, such as what they found difficult about trying to be a Christian in their school, and other questions that the youth were to ask the seniors.

“The response was so great that they are getting numerous requests from both generations as to when it will happen again,” Pippin reports.

Cook hopes that the practice of intentionally imparting faith, values, and testimonies of God’s faithfulness to the next generation continues to grow across AG churches. Now, more than ever, he believes the accessibility of technology can help that happen even for families that live long distances apart.

Ashley B. Grant

Ashley B. Grant has a master's degree in Human Services Marriage and Family Counseling from Liberty University and is a credentialed Christian counselor through the American Association of Christian Counselors. Grant also holds certifications in crisis pregnancy counseling and advanced life coaching. Ashley is a fourth generation Assemblies of God preacher’s kid and has one daughter and three sons.