multi-generational churches

Do you ever feel like something is missing when you take a look at the local church? Do you feel like there are generation gaps in our local body of believers? If you have ever had these feelings or questions, you aren’t wrong. Something is missing. The gaps are becoming wider and wider. And, the sad part – nothing is being done about it.

Multi-generational churches are becoming a rare thing in our culture today. We see different congregations popping up around us that cater to one generation or another. We see many churches dying every day because of this very thing. We see doors being open and doors being shut. So why is that? Why are we missing the generations in our churches?

First, we must define what a multi-generational church is. A multi-generational church is a local faith family that is centered around the Word, and looks to fulfill the purposes in which it was designed for: The Great Commission and the Great Commandment. Next, a multi-generational church has a multiple of generations within it. It has children, youth, students, young adults, median adults, seniors. Based on age, looking at the faces of the multi-generational congregation, you can see across the age spectrum. Finally, a multi-generational church reaches people in all the generations. Catering to one is not acceptable. From the way the church facility looks, to the processes in how the church is governed, to the flow of the worship gatherings, to the clothes that are worn by the people. A must-generational church engages all the generations.

So why are these type of churches missing in our communities today?

The answer: It’s hard.

Being a multi-generational church is hard work. A multi-generational church puts the desires and wants of personal preference to the side to see that grand plan of our God – to see ALL people come to faith and knowledge in the Lord Jesus, and to see the Kingdom of God expand to all corners of the earth.

In our culture today, that goes against everything that we know. It goes against putting self above everything or everyone else. This kind of hard work takes just that, hard work. When we so desperately want everything to be easy and simple, the sheer fact of living a life of servanthood goes against the easy and simple. It is deep and complex. But, that’s exactly what we should strive to do.

So how do we get to a multi-generational attitude when it comes to our churches?

  1. Place the Word above everything.
  2. Put aside personal preference for the advancement of the Kingdom.
  3. Take on a servant’s heart.
  4. Build off the foundations of the past, but strive for the future.
  5. Keep at it.

Let’s dive in…

1. Place the Word above everything. This should be key in every church, but in some, it isn’t. Is that ok? Absolutely not. The Word of the Lord should be the very foundation in which we build off of. When we place everything else above the Word, then we are placing the world above where God rightly deserves to be.

This means that everything that we do is driven from the Word. If there is something going on that isn’t driven from the Word, then we get rid of it. If it is something that we have always done just because, but isn’t drive from the Word, we get rid of it. The idea is to as close to a New Testament Church as possible, since we are on this side of the resurrection of Christ.

We teach the Word and nothing else. We sing the Word. We pray the Word. We fellowship around the Word. We take the Word wherever we go. We proclaim the Word.

2. We set aside personal preference for the advancement of the Kingdom. This may be the toughest on the list, because we are all so filled with what we want and what we desire that many times we get sidetracked when it comes to anything else. This means from the way something looks to the way something is done, we set aside the way we think it should be done and figure out the best way to see the Kingdom of the Lord continue to advance.

Personal preference is what we are a custom to these days. We live in a have it your way world. From the condiments we get on our burgers, to the style of music we prefer, everything is about options and choices, and the best thing, we get to pick and choose what we want. When we are tired of it, we just change it. As simple as it sounds, it makes church life that much more difficult.

We are so use to being able to change what we want, when we want it, that it drives us nuts when we are asked to put someone else’s in front of our own. But this is what it means to be a servant. To put others in front of us. To lay aside what we want for the betterment of the group. Christ has called us to serve each other. Let’s be willing to do just that, even if it takes us giving up what we want.

3. Taking on a servants heart is what Christ wants us to do. It is not only what He wants us to do, but it is what He has called us to do. It isn’t for only a few people, but for all followers of Christ. A servant’s heart puts others above themselves. A servant is willing to do the little and the hard things to see that others are placed first, and that the mission of Christ is not compromised.

Servanthood isn’t for the faint of heart. It is humbling. It is tough – kind of like the multi-generational church. Despite this, it is vital. Servanthood takes the mind fo Christ and through the Holy Spirit, overwhelms us to see others around us as the prized creation that they are. In turn, when we see people for people, we begin to see them as Christ did and as the Father does – people who are in need of the great Savior. When our perception of people changes, we will see them as human souls with eternity hanging in the balance.  We will serve them, and make sure that we put the Gospel on our lips to share the good news of Christ. Take on servanthood!

4. We build off the foundations of the past, while at the same time striving for the future. When we do these things, we continue to see how God works the different generations together. Take for a moment and think of the Gospel. Think of how it has transpired generations, and hasn’t faltered or changed. The message has never wavered. However, the means to get the message out seem to change every day. The same with multi-generational churches. We must build off the history and legacy that Christ has set up for us, and continue to advance the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

We don’t neglect the past. We don’t forget about the past. We don’t forsake the people who have labored before us in seeking to make the Kingdom of God known. We honor them by looking to the future with the foundations that they have laid, all for the great glory of Christ.

We have the be careful here… If we place our past on a pedestal, it will soon become and idol. And in doing so, we have done exactly what the Word tells us not to do. We will have placed something above Christ. Be careful with what you worship. Do we worship the Lord or do we worship the traditions and the past?

A multi-generational church will build off the past, and build off the legacy that has been built as long as that legacy points to Jesus.

5. We keep at it. When the times are tough and people are coming at you left and right to focus on just one group, we must remain steadfast in the fact that we should strive to be multi-generational. We keep at it no matter what. When preferences start to come out, and they will, we keep at it. We keep at it until Christ returns.

The world is watching, and I’m glad that they are. They are looking for something. And the best part, we have the something that will change their lives. We have the Gospel of Christ. Let’s live worthy to the cause of Christ. Let’s cling to the cross, and let’s live as a people who have His glory to look forward to. Let’s live and strive to work together for the advancement of the Kingdom of Christ!

We Give For His Glory

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Recently I heard a sermon from Dr. David Platt on giving, based on Psalm 86. I want to borrow from his exhortations and applications:

Five Motives or Worldly Giving:

  1. Pride.
  2. Power.
  3. Guilt.
  4. Greed.
  5. Temporary need.

Five Motives for Godly Giving:

  1. Grace from God.
  2. Glory for God.
  3. Good for others’ lives.
  4. Godliness in our lives.
  5. Eternal gain.*

This season as we prepare to give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, I pray that we will see the glory of our God on display, not by what we can give out of our own means, but by what He has done through His grace and mercy that has been lavished upon us.

The Lord has blessed us in so many ways. We live each day without really questioning where our next meal is coming from, or if the water we drink will kill us the next day. We don’t really have to question about our homes or if we will power to use when we get there. The world in which we live is one of the most wealthiest in human history. the country in which we reside is more wealthy than most combined around the world. We have been given much.

And because we have been given much, much is required of us. It isn’t our purpose in life to collect, and collect, and collect everything that God has given us and keep it to ourselves. Our purpose in life is to take the Gospel to the nations for His glory. Our purpose in life is to live generously for His glory. Our purpose life is to see His glory on display through people from every tribe, tongue, and nation.

We do a lot of remembering around this season. From remembering loved ones, to friends, to the good times in our lives. How do you, how do I want to be remembered? What do we want people to say about us?

I hope that people say that we are a generous people. Not because of anything that we have done, but because our God is great and we know that He is worth every penny, and then some. I hope that people will see that we care more about their salvation than we do our own comfort.

It is my prayer that we don’t give out of pride, power, guilt, greed, or temporary need, but we give because of the grace that God has given us, the good for others around us, godliness in our own lives, eternal gain, and ultimately for the glory of our God.

(*Behold His Mercy & Grace, Dr. David Platt, McLean Bible Church, https://www.mcleanbible.org/sermons/behold-his-mercy-grace)

 

reflections from Christmas Lights

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Christmas Lights at New Friendship has now come and gone. Even though the day is now over with the story lives on. The story of Christmas Lights lives on in each of us every single day. It lives on through the Christmas season and even into the rest of the days of the year. These Christmas Lights – the story of hope, the story of love, the story of rescue – lives on through us because we have now been given life from the author of the story. We have been given salvation through Jesus – the Light of the world.

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A beautiful picture of this took place in three baptisms from our 11 a.m. worship gathering yesterday. See the story of hope and rescue… See the promise of Christ through His death, burial, and resurrection. See that salvation has come to everyone who will believe in Him.

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Not only through baptism, but also through a story of someone who had never heard that someone was willing to die for them, and the promise of new life in Christ. Through Emily’s story we hear that we are no longer identified by our family life, or by our economic status, but we are identified by Christ. We are sons and daughters of the King. We are given the promise of being heirs with Christ. We are loved no matter what is going on at home or around us. We have been life. And what do we do with this life? We proclaim the life-changing, life-giving salvation of Jesus.

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And the best part of all of this… Sharing the good news of Christ isn’t left up to the adults or the religious elite. It isn’t left up to only pastors and church staff, but to everyone. Even the smallest ones. The Gospel resonates with all people. Even the ones who can barley sing, and stay on beat.

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Christmas Lights is more than just a time where we come together and enjoy some Christmas music, but a time of renewing our hearts and navigating away from the distraction of the season to see Christ in His glory and see that the Lord has us here for such a time as this, to take the Good news of Christ to the ends of the earth for His glory and renown.

May Christmas Lights be a reminder of the hope we have in Christ and the purpose for which we were created…

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. – Matthew 28:19-20

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Christmas Lights

Open my eyes. Oh heart believe. The wonder of these Christmas lights be born in me.

Take a look around. We are finally here. Christmas has come. The trees are up and the garland is being hung. The decorations are all around. The sights and sounds of Christmas have arrived.

With that so have the lights. Lights that are hung on the tree, inside around the house, on the door frame, all over the yard, and everywhere else, do something. They bring light to the darkness. The thing so bright that the darkness around them cannot overcome them. Everything is illuminated for the world to see.

On a dark night in Bethlehem, just over 2,000 years ago, the Light came. The Light stepped off His throne, and took on flesh. He showed up on the scene in the middle of darkness. Leading up to this time, God always communicated with His people. But for 400 years, there was nothing. Silence. Darkness. Nothing.

The Light burst onto the scene, and everything changed. Emmanuel has come. The Christ has come. Salvation has come. Salvation is here.

Jesus spoke in the John’s gospel account, “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 CSB)

Anyone who follows Christ will never walk in darkness again. With light, darkness cannot be seen. What was in the dark now has been brightened up for all to see. Christ is the Light, therefore those who follow Him will never be in the darkness again.

The Light has come for all people. He has come so that all people may never walk in darkness again, if they will follow Him. Because He has come, will we choose to follow Him, and not be in the darkness any longer.

When we see the lights of Christmas this season, may we be reminded that Christ has come so that all people may have salvation if we have faith and knowledge in Him. May we see that Christ doesn’t desire us to walk in darkness but to be in the Light.

Make the Most Out of Christmas Worship Gatherings This Year

Want to make the most out of the Christmas worship gatherings that you attend during the month of December? It’s a question that we all ask ourselves every time we near the season. So, do you?

If you do, here a few things to try this Christmas season when you come to any worship gathering or service:

1. Arrive Early

Christmas gatherings or services are some of the most attended in the year. So what better thing to do than to arrive early. You won’t get caught in the traffic coming into the parking lot, and then the mad rush to the door. Get there early and go ahead and find a seat. This will help everyone, especially those who may be getting there a little later for one reason or another.

2. Sit Closer to the Front

I know just saying that causes some pain inside your stomach. Try it. I dare you! When you arrive, go ahead and move closer to the front. Move our of your normal seat, and sit somewhere else. Free up spaces in the rear of the building for others. You never know, you may end up meeting someone you have never met or have a conversation with someone you haven’t spoken to in a long time. This is another opportunity to serve people around you.

3. Bring your Bible

Now you may be thinking, why say this? It’s a given, right? One of the best ways for you to interact with people is to share the good news with them. Share you Bible with someone around you that may have forgotten it, or doesn’t have one. Share the Light of Christ with them this Christmas season.

4. Engage in Musical Worship

This is another “should-be” given to do, but we need to be reminded to engage in all aspects of the worship gatherings. Many familiar songs will be sung, and played. Engage with them. Don’t just sit there like Scrooge. See what you are singing and see that the King of Glory is it’s subject!

5. Give, Give, and Give

The Christmas season is about giving, not receiving. Give, give, and then give some more. If your church engages in a global missions offering or the Lottie Moon Christmas offering, I encourage you to give over and above to those opportunities. We have been given access to Christ. Don’t we want everyone all over the globe to have that same access to hear the Gospel?

6. Invite Someone to Join You

Invite family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, whomever to attend with you this Christmas season. Not only reach out to them, but also share the good news – that Christ has come; that hope has come; that salvation has come!

7. Read an Advent Guide

Find a reading guide for Advent. Some that I recommend:

  • To Us a Son is Given – Dr. David Platt (radical.net)
  • Seasons: Enter the Story of Jesus – The Village Church
  • Waiting Here For You – Louie Giglio

humbling to say the least

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Defining this past Tuesday as humbling is an understatement.

I had the privilege, and let me iterate, privilege, of seeing husband and wives, moms and dads, men and women, be commissioned to the greatest mission field with the greatest story of all time in their hands and on their hearts. Seeing everyday, ordinary people willingly give up the earthly pleasures that this side of the world has to offer, and instead go to some of the toughest and most challenging places on the planet to not only live, but also share the good news of Christ, was one of the most honoring experiences I have ever had.

Standing shoulder to shoulder with several very good friends, and cheering this group of people on as they walked out of the room brought chills down my spine. To physically see the Church sending people to the nations with such joy and gladness just screams to the glory of our Christ. The thunderous applause and even the ringing of several cow-bells as this group of people made their way out of the auditorium will forever be etched in my mind.

While this day brought much sadness as goodbyes were said, it also great joy knowing that those who were being sent will do the very thing that we preach and teach on each and every week. They have committed themselves to the advancement of the Kingdom to the ends of the earth. Through tears and sorrow, the overwhelming joy that flowed from the group was absolutely astounding. While very few echoed the words, “goodbye,” many sounded with the words of, “see you soon.” For they know and we know that one day, whenever that day may be, we will be untied with Christ and with our bothers and sisters from all over the globe, rejoicing together around the throne of God, saying those that we long to sing, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty. Who was and Is and is to come.”

Not only did we see adults being sent, but also their kids. Oh to see the faces of those kids who know they are leaving this country for another, and with the fact that they, yes, they themselves will be proclaiming the good news of Christ. To see their faces light up when you ask them where they are going. To hear the stories of the now life-long friendships that have been bound together in the proclamation of the Gospel. The excitement was overflowing from their expressions and their words. And for this guy, to see their excitement brought a great freshness to what it is that I have the privilege of doing each and every day – equipping those to go and share the Gospel. May we all have the faith of the little ones, who share the good news of Christ.

The Apostle Paul writes, “How, then, can they call on him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about him? And how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.” (Romans 10:14-15 CSB).

The mission that has been given by Christ is one that is extremely urgent. The purpose in our lives isn’t to just live good lives and go to church, but to be the Church and be the ones in whom Christ has sent. You see, we are ALL in this together. We all play a part in the grand story of our God who wants to redeem and save the world through His Son. With over 3,000 unreached people groups of the world, we have a great mission ahead.

May we see the glory of God on display and desire to take the name to the nations just as those who were just commissioned.

Will you join with me in praying for this group of missionaries who are beginning their journeys on the field, proclaiming Christ around the globe. Pray for boldness for their witness, and also for a good transition to life on the field. Pray for much fruit from their labor. Pray for those in whom they will come to invest in and love, as they hear the good news of Jesus for the very first time. Pray for salvation of those who do not know Christ.

The harvest is ready… Will we be willing to go?

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don’t just go through the motions

We live in a world where it is easy to go through the motions. We have seen it time, and time again. We go through the motions of our daily routines. We go through he motions of our time with our families. We go through the motions of just about everything. From work, to our homes, to our play, to our church, we go through the motions.

May I give us some warning about going through the motions… STOP IT!

When we go through the motions, we begin to harden our hearts to what we are doing. We begin to see things in a light that doesn’t make sense. We see what we are doing as just another thing, instead of seeing it as something that is good. Going through the motions hardens our hearts.

So stop it!

God has given each of us a life to live. If you are reading this, He gave you life today. He gave you breath in your lungs to enjoy Him, and to glorify His name in all that you do. From our work to our rest, from our family to our friends, God has given us life today, and for us not to go through the motions.

You see, our God is much bigger than a god who is worthy of just going through the motions for. Our God is worthy of white-hot worship that drives us to take His Gospel to the nations for His glory. Our God is the life-giver, the eternal-forgiver, the Savior and Creator of all.

For the Lord is a great God, a great King above all gods. The depths of the earth are in his hand, and the mountain peaks are his. The sea is his; he made it. His hands formed the dry land. – Psalm 95:3-5

God desires His people to worship Him through revelation and response. He reveals himself to us through His Word, and then we respond to that revelation. Going through the motions doesn’t allow for us to see the revelation and then respond to it. We become numb to the beauty and majesty that are before us in the Resurrected Christ. Don’t just go through the motions.

When we go through the motions it can be very easy for us to honor God with our lips but have hard hearts toward him. Jesus warns us about this in Matthew 15:8-9:

This people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. They worship me in vain, teaching as doctrines human commands.

Don’t go through the motions of worshiping the Lord. Don’t go it! Stop it! Going through the motions is killing us individually, as families, and as the church.

When the regular routine of the day and week come at you remember to live it out and not just go through the motions.

open mouth, insert foot

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In ministry, there are really great days. In ministry, there are really hard days. The ups and downs of serving people bring great rewards and also great heart-aches. It just comes with the territory. There are days you want to shout from the mountain tops, and days where you want to crawl into the deepest cave. The good and the bad, all wrapped into one.

Recently, I had one of “those” days. Needless to say, when I opened my mouth, immediately I should have shoved my foot in, instead of allowing the words to come out. After thinking of what just happened, I immediately went and found the person I was speaking with and apologized. It was a low point, and I wanted to crawl into that deepest cave.

As a leader, there will be days like this. You will make mistakes – both big and small. You will be faces with different challenges and different opportunities. When you mess up, own it. Apologize. There is nothing wrong with apologizing. Some may see it as a weakness, but in the long run, it isn’t. Next, learn from it. many times, mistakes lead to the biggest opportunity to learn. Don’t allow a mistake to keep you from learning.

Owning mistakes are hard. Nothing about it is ever easy. However, despite mistakes, don’t allow your identity to be placed in what you do, or what you have done. May your identity be found in Christ, and in Him alone.