Have you considered why Jesus wept when his friend Lazarus died (John 11:1-44)? Before he left for Bethany with his disciples, Jesus told them he was going there to awaken Lazarus, who, he said, “had fallen asleep.” We know, then, that he planned to raise Lazarus. Jesus knew Lazarus’s death would be temporary—at least this time around. As Jesus wept, he knew that in minutes, Lazarus, his sisters, and all those who loved them would see the glory of God, and they would all be rejoicing like never before. But still, when Jesus saw Mary, Lazarus’s sister weeping, and others weeping with her, he was “deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled,” and he wept, too.
I am no expert in multi-generational small groups (or anything really), but I believe our churches could benefit greatly from them. Our church recently reformatted our small group ministry: off-campus, in homes, and with less emphasis on life stage divisions. The move off campus was a big enough step, we didn’t think we could go whole hog on the multi-gen front at the same time. But here is why I think they’re a better approach to biblical community than age/life stage groups.
Jason Cook interviews Voresa Booker, a retired Navy captain who served for more than 30 years.
Performance-based mentality asks the question, “How am I doing?” without a view of the free gift of grace in Christ. It’s present when we feel like we need to measure up to something or somebody in our minds or “out there” in social media, in church, or at work. It is present when we feel like we have to put on something, be someone else, cover up who we really are, or how we’re really doing on the inside. “How am I doing?” is a healthy question in and of itself, coupled with healthy self-assessment and self-awareness. But the question goes horribly wrong when we are more aware of ourselves (how well or not so well we are doing) than the grace of Christ.
Should churches change for the sake of the rising generation? This is a perennial debate. At the Juicy Ecumenism blog, my friend Mark Tooley has given some historical perspective on why changing theology to suit the perceived preferences of the younger generation is always a bad idea. While the church should never “pander” to anyone, however, the church does have a responsibility to “cater” to those who might be making decisions about faith and the church. Such lifelong decisions are most often made in one’s late teens and early adulthood, sometime in the transition between high school, college/career, and (where applicable) marriage and parenting. Reaching and retaining that rising generation is a constant challenge to churches. Many churches have died because they failed to meet the test.
Reaching the rising generation involves three main factors. Liberalizing one’s theology is not one of them – in fact, point #1 is the opposite strategy.
Pastor, our people don’t usually get excited about what we tell them to be excited about. Have you figured that out yet? Instead, they get excited about what they see actually excites us.
A favorite from the archives:
It still blows my mind that eleven Easters ago, I didn’t believe this—and more importantly, I didn’t care. That last Easter, I had, in fact, started reading the Bible. But it was in my quest to make fun of Christians for what we believe, not out of any sense of longing or desire to know Christ. What would happen if I told that younger Aaron that just a few weeks from then, he would believe what he sought to mock? What would he do if he learned that all his self-righteousness was worthless?
Honestly, probably that younger me would have laughed.