Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Generational Service

Tonight at our 20's group we were covering the second lesson in New Life's First Steps book, which is on faith. The big idea of the lesson is that true faith can't be summed up with the word "knowledge," nor with the word "feeling," but with the word "surrender."

One part of the lesson asks the question, "How can we increase in faith?" To spend time in the Bible is the answer. It is in there that we learn more about God: who is the object of our faith.

During our discussion we were looking at I. Timothy 3:16 & Hebrews 10:25:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. I Timothy 3:16

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another... Hebrews 10:25

I was sharing with the group how we need to live in community, which is unfortunately becoming such a cliche in the church. But the point I was making is that we need to have people in our lives who have permission to point us to the Word so as to teach us, rebuke us, correct us, and train us. Specifically though, we need people from within our peer group and people older than us. Our peer group for people who can resonate with where we're at and those older because they have been where we are at. But the idea isn't to have these people in our lives just to come along side to boo-hoo or gripe with us, but to be come along side to keep us focused and cheer us on to obedience and love for Jesus.

After talking for a bit Jessica made the comment, "Then we need more than just those two groups in our lives. We also need younger people in our lives as well. We need to be spurring and encouraging them on because to them we are the 'older' people."

As soon as she said it two things hit me, beyond just the fact that she was absolutely, brilliantly correct.

The first truth hitting me was the reality that the most influential group of people for the current teen generation is the current 20's generation. Who are they more likely to mimic - a 24yr old or a 34yr old? Not that those outside of the 20's aren't influential - they are crucial - but there is a reality that the 20's have a special influence over the current teen generation that is special and powerful. That truth should empower young 20's with both a wake-up call and a mission. A wake-up call that you have influence, you have the potential to impact a generation. The just out of high school or college "I'm not under mom/dad's roof anymore I'm going to do what I want" attitude that some 20's have is going to turn divine potential into generational genocide. If you're in your 20's you have such an unique, amazing opportunity to turn the eyes of the generation before you toward Jesus. That is a mission! That is amazing!

That led to the second thing - there is a need to embrace generational influence in the church. There is a necessity to split up age groups for various reasons that are justifiable in my opinion. At the same time - the above discussion to me is evidence for more of an effort to bring the ages together. Looking to those older than me, younger than me, my same age and asking, "How can I help you in your journey?" Teenagers have something to offer the elderly, vice versa, and then apply that to every other age group comparison you can chart out. Mentors are needed, labor is needed, guidance is needed, friendships are needed, coaching is needed, fun is needed - all of these both in AND across the age generations.

So all of this brought me to a big conclusion: the church is a necessity. That will be obvious to some, but not to others. "I can just have the 'church-thing' with my group of friends. I don't need to go to a large group or a building." More than the fact that this way of thinking excessively drips with consumerism thinking, this mentality is also one of isolation. One is isolating themselves off from what so many others can offer them - AND what they can offer to so many others. Al always says to me and our church location, "The time to make friends is before you need them." Jesus said it before Al did, "do not neglect meeting together - encourage one another." When we truly embrace the church for what it can be, and embrace that reality across age differences - it just seems like a living reality that something good, needed, and profound will happy: people will be helped, changed for the better, and will see Jesus for who He is really is.

Sounds pretty good to me.

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