What about the youth? Peter says this: “Young men, in the same way be submissive to those are older” (5:5a). Who are these youth? Here are some options:
1. Young folk in comparison with older folk. But, “elder” here must mean the leadership position, the pastor, of 5:1-4.
2. Leaders in comparison with younger folk in the church. But, why would only the “younger” ones need to fall in line with the leadership?
3. Leaders in comparison with the entire church (found in the word “young men”). This would be an odd way of saying something.
4. Leaders of age in comparison with leaders who are young.
5. Leaders of age in comparison with recent converts. JH Elliott makes a good case for this view being the most reasonable, and he appeals to 1 Cor 16:15-16 and 1 Tim 3:6.
I think #5 is very reasonable, and it makes very good sense of the instructions. The young in faith need time to “learn the ropes” and to learn how to live as Christians, and the single best way is not to read a book but to find good mentors and role models and simply live with them, watch them, and imitate them as they find their own feet.
We often call such a process “discipleship programs” but most will readily admit that a program is not the same thing as learning to live as a Christian by being mentored or guided by someone who has already learned how to walk the path. All of this fits into the growing emerging pattern we see today: incarnational approaches to ministry instead of just educational approaches (assuming, as many do, that education is depersonalized, which it ought not to be).
The best gift you can give to your community of faith is a good example of what it means to be a Christian.
If you want a good argument for intergenerational ministry you’ve got it right here.
An emerging movement insight: listen to the life of a good person.