Thursday, January 9, 2014

Multi-Generational Church = God's Plan

I was recently asked the question, "So, what kind of church do you go to?" and even though they meant nothing by it, the question really bothered me.  I gave them another opportunity to clarify what they were really asking.  "What exactly do you mean by… what 'kind' of church?"  They responded, "You know… is it a contemporary church or a traditional church?  …Is it a big church or a small church?"

Once again, this wasn't an attempt to get me fired up, but this topic, for whatever reason really does trouble me.  Perhaps the reason it troubles me so much is because if we're being honest, it really is a valid question.  Most of our churches can be labeled.  We either go to a white church or a multi-ethnic church.  We go to an evangelistic church or one that focuses more on discipleship.  We attend missional church or churches that are more inwardly focused.  Not only that, but we have more denominations than ever before.  There are so many labels and no matter what church you attend, you can probably identify what 'kind' of church it really is.

Here lately, it seems like one of the most common separators in churches is the age of the congregation.   You probably attend either an OLD church or a YOUNG church.  Multi-Generational Churches that are thriving, growing, and healthy seem to be becoming a thing of the past… and I think that's a shame.

It shouldn't be "What KIND of church are you a part of?"  The proclamation should be that we are all a part of THE Church and when you look closely at THE Church, you won't find different segments and races and cultures and groups.  When you look at The Church, you find one family of believers that are unified by their faith in Jesus Christ.  Nothing else matters.

Our churches ought to look different.

Our churches ought to LOOK like Heaven.
Our churches ought to POINT people to Heaven.
Our churches ought to be GOING to Heaven.

Heaven isn't going to be a country club in the sky.  It's not going to look like a night club either.  It won't be all white, or all black or all anything for that matter.  Heaven is going to be diverse.  It'll be made up of every race and culture and people group from every background and upbringing imaginable.  Heaven is going to have different kinds of music and different stories of salvation.  Everyone will have a story to tell, but despite their differences, everyone in Heaven will have one thing in common; they were once a sinner saved by the grace of God.  Period. If that's what Heaven will look like, then perhaps our churches should resemble that as well.

Perhaps you're reading this and you're thinking… "Why is a Multi-Generational Model of Church beneficial?"  Well, I'm glad you asked…

Challenges to the Multi-Generational Model:
  • Different Backgrounds
When I was twelve years old, I can remember my first "real" worship experience.  It was at Summer Camp and the band started playing a worship song that took on a life of it's own.  The music was loud, the lights were dim, the fog machine had filled the room, and God showed up big time.  I could feel the Holy Spirit in the room.  To this day, I can remember the power of God in that worship experience.  Now, if you'd ask someone in their 60's or 70's what their first real worship experience was, they'd have a story as well.  Perhaps it was at a Billy Graham crusade and George Beverly Shea began singing the old hymn "Just As I Am" or maybe they were at a tent revival in their county square and everyone broke out in song singing "Amazing Grace" acapella.  
  • Different Preferences
Here's what we've got to realize:  Both of these worship experiences were real and powerful and authentic.  Not only that, but we've got to understand that neither one of these worship experiences are better than the other.  But most of the time, because this was 'our' worship experience, it's become our worship preference.  Our backgrounds have a way of determining our preferences.  When we believe our preferences are superior to other people's preferences, that's when we get ourselves into trouble.
  • Different Desires
Most of the time, we want 'church' or 'worship' to revolve around us and what we like.  That is our desire.  That's not necessarily a bad thing, because it's completely natural.  That's why there are so many different kinds of churches; because we search until we find one that meets our needs and is suitable to our taste.  That's completely understandable.  What we've got to be careful of is making sure our desires don't prevent us from being the church God has called us to be.

God designed the church to be (like the old song said) red and yellow, black and white; multi-ethnic.  Churches should include the young and the old; multi-generational…  It should have new Christians and seasoned veterans, those who are searching and those who are discipling.  That's the way He designed it to be.  So with that being said, there are several advantages to you (as a part of The Church) being inclusive to the different generations that surround you on a day-to-day basis:

Advantages of a Multi-Generational Model
  • Discipleship and Mentoring opportunities between younger and older members
  • Opportunities to impart Maturity and Wisdom to younger generations
  • Act as one family rather than several small groups of people within one body
  • Senior Adults are typically some of your greatest Servants.  When I was a Youth Pastor, some of my greatest volunteers were Senior Adults. They had more time.  They loved our kid. Not only that, but they had the experience and wisdom to do a fantastic job investing in their lives.
  • There are lost people in every age demographic so by disregarding a group, you may be overlooking divine opportunities.
  • Younger people need Older people… and Older people need Younger people.
Disadvantages of Avoiding a Multi-Generational Model
  • Segments in the Body create Separation not Unification
  • When we fail to embrace Senior Adults in church, we will naturally have no concept or respect for where we've come from.
  • There will be a natural immaturity in our younger generations that results from a lack of discipleship and mentoring.
How does your church do this well?
How can your church improve in this area?  

1 comment:

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