Temporarily in Service
(Posted from Seattle)
News Flash: You’re not permanent.
Not here, at least. In fact, you and I are aging fast (I’m probably aging faster than you). As the good book says, our days are written in dry-erase marker, here today, wiped away tomorrow.
Which could lead to a feeling of futility, "why bother if we’ll soon be shuffling off this sod?" Or, hopefully, it helps us focus; to draw better pictures of the future. To draw a picture of church for our kids, to design it for our children.
I didn’t, in fact, make up this idea: God did. When he made his bilateral agreement with Abram he made promises for Abram’s offspring. The promise was for Abram’s seed. The promise looked waaaay down the path.
Isn’t it true, in fact, that most bible stories are generational stories? Think of Adam & sons, Noah & sons, the patriarchs (all children of promise), Hannah/Samuel, Saul/Jonathan, Naomi/Ruth, Boaz/David/Solomon/Absolom, etc. And I won’t belabor the point in the New Testament which culminates with the Father/Son story.
A discounting of the generational nature of the people of God will only make us poorer and less likely to understand how we should work together.
I suspect we’d have a lot less conflict in church if we all were trying to make church for the next generation rather than for ourselves. Not only is it altruistic, but it’s forward-thinking. It’s generous to not design church for ourselves.
For instance, set worship times based on what’s best for the next generation, not best for me. Select music styles that "work" for the next generation, not for me. Preach the word to the ears of the next generation. Sure, do devotions for ourselves, but do church for our kids.
The fascinating thing is that this works for every generation. People live so long now that we can have 6 distinct generations in any church. And each of the generations old enough to have kids can and should mold the church experience for their children.
In fact, this is what we really want; our children to be a part of God’s covenant. We want the promise to be for our kids. We want them to share our values. But we’ve sometimes worked at cross-purposes to what we really want: we’ve retained secondary church characteristics that are meaningful to us (I always tear up when we sing, "He Touched Me,") and forgotten to emphasize the core of the covenant (fanatical followers living lives of radical obedience).
Design church for your kids and you’ll be surprised that it meets your deepest desires. Give up "He Touched Me," so He can touch them.