Tag Archives: millennials

why bother

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Does the church have anything to offer the world in the 21st century? This seems to be a question that plagues pastors, writers, theologians and thinkers alike in the church today. You see articles and books about church growth or reaching millennials or connecting families on an almost daily rate. The church seems to find itself at a crossroads of crisis and our offerings to me, and I imagine to a lot of the world, just seem lack luster at best. “Oh, you’ve got another program for me to attend?” “This book study will make me a skinnier, wealthier and happier Christian?” “This program is guaranteed to make church stick for me and my family this time?” I don’t mean to sound too cynical, but why bother? If all the church is trying to do is to compete with other social activities in the world, then why bother?

A couple of nights ago I sat across from a couple from our church in my living room. We were meeting to talk about a new (I’m reluctant to use the word because it just sounds like another program) ministry they’ve launched. Well, I guess it’s more of an inter-generational small group (even that sounded programmatic). But I asked them to sum up the rationale behind it and the gentlemen responded with, “Well, it’s more or less our attempt to build a family in the church.” YES! In a simple statement made on my sofa while my kids were all sleeping (I hope) in the background I heard the why bother answer resonate loud and clear. And it all goes back to the birth of the church. What does the church have to offer to the world? It goes like this in the second chapter in the book of Acts. “All the believers were united and shared everything. They would sell pieces of property and possessions and distribute the proceeds to everyone who needed them. Every day, they met together in the temple and ate in their homes. They shared food with gladness and simplicity. They praised God and demonstrated God’s goodness to everyone. The Lord added daily to the community those who were being saved.” – Acts 2:42-47 Did you see that? The church, at it’s core, is a family that wants to be together, takes care of one another and shares life together.

So church, please hear me in regards to your existence in the 21st century. We have the greatest hope to share with the world. But if we just make it another program, social event, to-do list, check mark or any other means of clever marketing we will continue to fail. The world will look at our existence as simply another ploy to get them to commit to something that at the end of the day adds very little value to their lives. But if we, and I know it might be a stretch, actually began to mirror the lives of the early church and became that Family of God we used to sing about all the time, then perhaps those outside our walls might see the life we share and come to realize it might be the very thing they’re missing. In a world of broken families, fractured homes, disenfranchised lives, social media virtual communities, depression, anxiety and fear we as the church have something to offer that nothing else can compare with. The Kingdom of God goes beyond all other kingdoms and programs when our family’s head calls us to remember, “This is my commandment: love each other just as I have loved you. No one has greater love than to give up one’s life for one’s friends.” – John 15:12-13 It’s high time we started being that kind of family again and I can’t wait to see what happens when we do.

 

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action and truth

Last night we gathered for our regular Wednesday night church gathering. And I’m not sure if it was the result of Daylight Savings Time or the fact that so many have been sick, but we had a very intimate gathering (that’s pastor talk for a small crowd). But we sat around the table and we began to discuss what Relational Holiness/Mission looked like. We talked about healthy relationships in a digital world and helping new people feel connected to a local church body. We talked about the challenges of the contemporary world and how the church is called to embody healthy and whole community as a reflection of the Divine Life of the Trinity. And the best part about this discussion…I was the only one around the table under the age of 40.

The description of the conversation above may have sounded like a gathering of Gen X’ers or Millennials, but I am so excited to say that this conversation took place with people who are old enough to be my parents and possibly even my grandparents. I sat with these amazing church people as we discussed problems that church faces with it’s mission in the 21st century and that had as much or more insight into the dilemma as many of my peers. They spoke about days gone by when they would incorporate people into the local church by having them into their homes, going out to eat with them, having volleyball nights or picnics. Our verse for the evening even reflected this approach to ministry and sharing the gospel. “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” – 1 John 3:18

It’s funny sometimes how there truly is nothing new under the sun. Often times the younger generation (present company included) think we have a monopoly on forming healthy communities. But honestly this isn’t something we need to reinvent. Our elders have been doing this for a long time…how do you think the gospel got to us anyway? So I have a challenge for us today. Let’s take that passage of scripture from John’s epistle at face value. Let’s not just give lip service to ideas or concepts or strategies etc., but let’s love with actions and authenticity and truth. I look at the world around us even now and am astounded at the words we hurl back at forth at each other…sometimes even lined with scripture. I think we have all had enough words. Let’s love. Love truly. Create churches and communities where people feel loved and connected to something bigger and greater then themselves. After all, Christ himself said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:35 Those you are called to love may not always look like you, think like you, believe like you or lead life like you, but that doesn’t diminish or negate your calling to love them. May we find true salvation and holiness in the communities we are called to give our lives to.

 


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