Summary: A sermon on reaching out to various groups both in the church and outside the church (Material adapted from David Faust in Lookout Magazine May 4, 2003 edition, article entitled, "Are You Well Connected?")
Can You Hear Me Now? Cell phone needs to have a good connection or frustrating.
Good connections are vital in the church. We share a “partnership in the gospel” (Philippians 1:5). Just as an ear or a hand can’t fulfill its intended function if it’s disconnected from the rest of the body, "in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Romans 12:5, NIV.
Thesis: Different groups in the church need to connect
Different generations need to connect
When do different age groups get together? Much age segregation in our day, many times the generations are separated even in the immediate family. Where can people of all ages share life’s journey from birth to the grave?
Many extended family members live miles apart or live close by but see no need to connect. Since this is the case where can young couples be consistently exposed to role models of healthy marriages? Where can girls find mature women who will teach them about godliness and motherhood? Where will boys discover mentors who will encourage them to grow as Christian men and to be leaders in their families and in the church?
“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no-one will malign the word of God. Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled.” Titus 2:3-6, NIV.
Many times in the modern church we have a youth group that is to minister with the teenagers and children. While having noble intentions, we find problems there. “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.” Proverbs 13:20, NIV. Placing teenagers together with minimal adult supervision is a formula for deepening and perpetuating immaturity. In one ancient church manual written around 230 AD, here’s the advice given to Christian parents: “Don’t give your children liberty that lets them set themselves against you as their parents! If you do, they will end up running around with people their own age, clustering together and carousing. That’s how they learn mischief; then, they find themselves caught up in mischief, and they fall into immorality.”
Bad youth minister or bad youth sponsors. No, too many families drop off their children and youth and it is more of a glorified baby sitting service than a legitimate ministry. I don’t know of a youth ministry who has too many adult sponsors, usually not enough adult supervision. How can one couple (many times youth minister and his wife) minister to 30 teenagers? Also, considering that the youth minister and adult workers are usually so young and inexperienced, we have a recipe for problems. If the bulk of workers in the ministry are within a decade of their teenaged years, this is a potential disaster. 2 problems:
1. The parents are not taking seriously their responsibility to bring up their children “in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Too many feel like it is the church’s responsibility to do this. Not possible and not practical
2. Discipleship happens best among people of different generations. We need a network of older, more experienced people to mentor the younger. Cannot lead someone to a place where we have never been ourselves.
Mary Pipher said this, “A great deal of America’s moral sickness comes from age segregation. If ten 14 year olds are grouped together, they will form a Lord of the Flies culture with its competitiveness and meanness. But if ten people ages two to 80 are grouped together, they will fall into a natural age hierarchy that nurtures and teaches them all. For our own mental and societal health, we need to reconnect the age groups.” Talked about this earlier in meeting
Different ethnic groups need to connect
In many areas of this country it is normal to see “black, white, Latino, Asian, Korean, Greek” churches and others like them. “Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” Colossians 3:11, NIV.
In 1970, church growth expert Donald McGavran published Understanding Church Growth. The book contains much good information and principles. One principle, however, continues to cause controversy and debate 40 years later. McGavran observed, “People like to become Christians without crossing racial, linguistic, or class barriers.” Considering this observation, McGavran urged Christians to plant new congregations within various ethnic groups, rather than developing multiethnic communities. This has two problems:
1. Biblical problem- Scripture calls believers into fellowship with one another despite their differing ethnic backgrounds. For instance, when Paul came to city he did not plant one church with the Jews and another among the Gentiles. He planted one church. Not only were they ethnically different but also religiously different, much deeper divide than today. Problems along the way that we see in NT but through God’s direction and many church leaders’ perseverance of working through the problems, there was united church.