Multigenerational Church

Multigenerational Church

The Lord has been placing something before my heart for the past several weeks.  Multiple circumstances have continually focused my attention on the importance of working hard on loving and maintaining a multigenerational church.  A church that seeks to minister and to facilitate all different generations of people.  A church where the young, teens, middle age, and elderly all worship and serve together. Due to our cultural dictate of consumerism, this is getting harder and harder.  We have many choices as to which church we would like to attend and naturally we are attracted to one that is geared towards our age group and place in life.  It is good to be surrounded by many who have the same stresses, same life’s circumstances, and the same age children.  Having so much in common, and then also having Jesus in common, can be like a little bit of heaven.  
Not too long ago I was aware of a group of teens that began a Bible study.  It was good to see young people from many churches meeting together to share the Word and hang out.  Soon this group grew and the decision was made to not only meet during the week but to also meet on Sundays.  They would be a church.  All of these teens pulled from their local churches so that they could worship with people their own age, their own way, and be encouraged by those who were going through the same things they were.  No argument from this blogger about the fact that they had their own little slice of heaven.  But were they doing what God intended for the church here on earth?  Were they allowing the older men and women to teach and guide them (Titus 2; I Pet 5; Heb 13)?  Was there authority to love enough to discipline (Matt 18)?  Were they concerned about widows and orphans (James 1)?  How were the ordinances or sacraments handled?  I am not sure of the answers to those questions but I think they are good ones to ask.  The church is to be far more than a great worship time together.
Here are two observations that God has placed before me in the last few weeks.  We have, in our church, been having good discussions about what is happening in our culture in our faith.  The push and pull of different generations is important.  The young are full of hope and optimism.  The older folks have seen and lived some of the consequences of giving an inch.  Too often people who are given an inch are never satisfied until the have the whole mile.  For instance, Princeton University and many of the mainline denominations gave an inch concerning the inerrancy of the Word of God and soon those given the inch swallowed the University and the denominations into liberalism.  They are now far from God.  The push and pull of these two mentalities, hope and caution, help balance each other out. Lose one and the balance is thrown off.  Silence one and the balance is thrown off.  Give up in weariness and the balance is thrown off. The hope of youth may lead to too much capitulation and too much is lost.  Wisdom learned from living life can be ignored and dismissed. The cautiousness of age may lead to an impatience or harshness that gives people no room to change and learn.  Caution, too often, closes our ears.  Worshiping and serving together, allowing the push and the pull, keeps the balance.
The second observation came from our desire to join the generations in a corporate prayer time.  Concessions were going to be needed on each side if we were going to be able to share this time.  We shortened our time of prayer, added a game time, and decided both sides were Baptist and so they would love a snack time.  My personal goal, was to expose our children to people who have been praying for years and allow the older to teach the younger the importance and power of prayer.  In the first week, God reminded me of how important it is for us older folks to be around the younger ones.  God blessed me to see just how much the young children can teach us about enjoying life and innocent faith.  One thing that happened was that Mitzi and Doug, a couple whose children are grown, were teamed up with Luke (a young, energetic 6 year old).  They were running all over the farm, seeking to be the first ones done in our scavenger hunt.  They were quick to the task and finished first.  Mitzi called them together and they had a spontaneous word of prayer.  Fast forward to Sunday and Doug was cooking hot dogs for our church BBQ.  Luke comes up to Doug and compliments him on the best hot dogs he had ever eaten.  Now, I know it is a silly story but it reminded me of how important it is to work hard to get each generation to interact with one another.  Luke felt comfortable, even though Mitzi kept calling him Lucas, to share his compliment because they had spent time praying and playing together. That is what multigenerational church is all about.  I know Doug received many compliments that day but none was more encouraging than the one Luke laid on him.
We have much to learn and share with one another.  I am praying that when the children of our church grow up they will look back, with great fondness, of the time they spent with all of the people of our church.  I know that they will probably not remember one of my amazing sermons but they will remember Mitzi praying with them after they ran around Lohmann’s farm making sure that the black object they picked up was not horse manure.  Lord willing, those times of pray and play will keep them tethered to the life giving, life affirming, life growing beauty of the church.

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