It was a total disaster. The contractor could not believe what had just happened. He sat in stunned silence gazing over the blueprints of the construction site. All he could think about was the money invested and lost; the time and effort that had been put into the project. And now… everything was over. All the workers had left.
You may wonder what happened. Had forces of nature wrecked the construction site and ended the work? Did the workers form a union and refuse to work unless they were paid more money? Did they run out of resources and were not able to finish the project? The answer is “no” to all of these questions.
The reason the work stopped is because there was a breakdown in communication. The workers could not understand each other and since they could not understand each other, the work came to a screeching halt. Most of us are familiar with this story. You’ve probably heard it many times. We refer to it as the story of the Tower of Babel.
In Genesis 11 the people began a project to make a name for themselves. They wanted to build a tower to the heavens. I think it is humorous that Genesis 11:5 tells us that as the people were building this great project the Lord had to come down just to see it.
It is at this time that God confuses the languages and scatters the people over the earth. God had said, “Nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them” if they were working together. So God takes away communication and their effort fails.
There is an obvious lesson for us to learn today. If we are not communicating clearly, we will not be successful.
Psychologists teach that the most critical element to a good relationship is communication.
A good definition of communication is the transferring of information so it can be understood.
The church is God’s chosen people who are to communicate God’s message to the world. Therefore, in the church we have a constant struggle to make sure good communication is taking place, both outside and inside the church.
The church is most effective when all of her members communicate clearly with one another.
It is a daunting task when we consider how many different people there are in the church. But tonight we want to focus in on age groups. I want us to ask how the adults and the young people are doing in their communication with one another.
Last week we took a survey during the Sunday School hour. “A Wish List” was handed to the adults. It simply said, “I wish the young people…” The adults were not to sign their names, only to indicate their age. Adults in their 20’s all the way up to adults in their 80’s took time to respond to this survey. It was insightful the responses we received.
We also went to the young people’s rooms and gave them “A Wish List.” It simply said, “I with the adults…” The responses we received from them were very interesting.
Now some of the kids acted like kids. A 10 year old wrote, “I wish the adults would give us tacos.” Maybe that child was hungry. A 9 year old wrote, “I wish the adults wouldn’t care about carbs and fat.” Aside from a few remarks like this, the responses that were given showed a depth that I had not anticipated.
Let’s begin with what the adults had to say.
Many of the adults felt that the young people needed to show more…
Here are a few samples. “I wish the young people would respect others and not make fun of them.” A person in their 40’s wrote, “I wish the young people knew how to talk to adults.” An elderly member in their 70’s wrote, “I wish the young people who run (in the church) would show respect to people and to the place.” One last comment, “I wish the young people were more respectful of the church and older members.”
You could get the feeling that this was a “hot” issue with some individuals. But I must agree with them. Young people need to respect their elders. Leviticus 19:32 reads, “Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God.”
The Bible teaches us younger people that we need to respect our elders. The interesting aspect of following this command to respect is that in doing so, we are also respecting God. I want to make sure that I can do everything possible to respect God.
The Bible teaches that we are to give respect to every single person. 1 Peter 2:17 reads, “Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.”
Paul wrote to a young man named Timothy, “Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.” (1 Timothy 5:1-2)
God desires that we respect everyone. The reason we are to respect people is because God is their Creator. Too many times we neglect God’s precious gift of life to everyone. God knows that if people lose respect for others, then life loses its value.
Maybe that helps explain what is happening in our society. We have lost respect for one another; therefore, we have lost respect for life. How can a culture that respects life allow a holocaust of innocent babies to be aborted? We need to rediscover this great command to respect. We need to rediscover that life is valuable because God created it.
Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was. HE answered, “Love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. The second greatest command is to love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus taught that we are to give respect to others.
Another area the adults commented on was…
The outward appearance of others was commented on by several individuals. One member said, “I wish the young people wouldn’t worry about what others dress like.”
A prayer that is needed for each of us is that we would not judge one another by our appearances. James wrote the church, “Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, ‘Here’s a good seat for you,’ but say to the poor man, ‘You stand there’ or ‘Sit on the floor by my feet,’ have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?” (James 2:2-4)
I hope that everyone knows regardless of the kinds of clothes you have, you are welcome here at the Peebles Church of Christ. And if we agree with that statement, none of us should show favoritism or neglect to anyone based on the appearance they have. We must remember that God looks at the heart not the outward appearance. It goes back to that first principle of respecting one another.
Now, I wish I could just move on, but the other comments dealt with clothes that the young ladies were wearing. “I wish the young women would dress more appropriate in church or out of church.”
I really liked this comment because the member who wrote this gave their reason why girls should consider what they wear. They wrote, “Clothing decisions can lead young men to have thoughts they shouldn’t have. We are a light to the world. We need to be different.”
Do you remember the verse we looked at in 1 Timothy? Let’s put that back on the screen. “Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.” (1 Timothy 5:1-2)
Key in on how the younger men and women are to treat each other. They are to be like brothers and sisters. Girls, you may think that you are wearing the latest style or fashion, but you are causing your Christian brother to stumble. It isn’t that the church doesn’t like fashion… it’s about being modest.
Peter wrote, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” (1 Peter 3:3-4)
I would just like to challenge all the ladies, regardless of age… when you choose the clothes you wear, think of your Christian brothers and don’t give them cause to stumble. Let your beauty come from the inside out.
If you are a young person, at this point in the sermon you might be thinking, “Wade, these comments the adults gave are killing us!” So I do want to lighten up on our young people just a little bit.
It has never been easy to be young. It seems like the young people are always being picked on. I want you to hear these quotes from two influential people from the secular world.
“Youth today love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority, no respect for older people, and talk nonsense when they should work. Young people do not stand up any longer when adults enter the room. They contradict their parents, talk too much in company, guzzle their food, lay their legs on the table, and tyrannize their elders.”
Listen to this second quote. “The world is passing through troublous times. The young people today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they know everything, and what passes for wisdom with us is foolishness with them. As for the girls, they are forward and immodest and unwomanly in speech, behavior and dress.”
It is surprising to learn that Socrates made the first quote and Peter the Hermit made the second quote in AD 1274. It has never been easy to be young!!
Even though Peter the Hermit said that what the young people think of as foolishness is really wisdom, I want to know what the young people think. After all, communication is both talking and listening.
In one survey a kid wished that the adults would stop parking under the basketball goals in the parking lot. And while they are at it, fix the net.
As I went through the responses, I really was surprised at what the young people said. Some of them caught me totally off guard.
The young people wished that the adults would be…
A 10 year old wrote this, “I wish the adults would take time to listen to kids about what they have to say.” A 12 year old wrote the following: “I wish the adults would understand that we’re just kids and that we make mistakes sometimes, sometimes they get mad too easily.”
When I passed out the survey to the young people, I expected to hear things like, “We want them to give us a trip to Hawaii.” But when given a safe way to communicate, the kids want to know that you care about them, understand them and will listen to them.
This is from a 14 year old, “I wish the adults would be more friendly and learn the names of the kids.” It is interesting to me that the kids really want respect as well.
Another area the young people commented on was the adults…
“I wish the adults would quit being boring and just have some fun every now and then. Start getting excited!” That was from a teen. Another teenager wrote, “I wish the adults would be more fun and outgoing.”
This is why young people are good for the church… they keep it alive! Young people have all this energy, the constantly want to do things, to be active… and they see some of the adults, who look like they were baptized in pickle juice, sitting in a pew looking like they are so bored and cannot stand to be in the church!
A little girl had been baptized following the morning message. She went home and the family had a huge get-together. The little girl was so happy and joyful and skipping around the house. She came by her grandfather and he snapped at her for being so joyful. The little girl, saddened by her grandfathers’ lack of joy, went out to the barnyard. She saw the mule in a corner of the barnyard. She went over to the mule and looked in his sad eyes. She said, “You must go to the same church grandpa goes to.”
Adults, there is nothing wrong with having joy. Part of the fruit of the Spirit is joy! Do you realize that if you are a Christian, you are on your way to heaven? You better notify your face! Smile some! Be excited about being in the house of the Lord.
It is interesting to me that the second most mentioned item was commented on by both groups. The adults and young people wish that the youth were...
More involved with the worship.
Let me start with the adults. A member in their fifties wrote, “I wish the young people were more active participants as a group in our worship services.” Another member in their forties wrote, “I wish the young people could be more involved in the church service.” One member exclaimed, “I wish the young people would want to come to church without being threatened!”
Now, listen to the young people’s wishes… “I wish the adults were more on fire for Jesus. I wish we were more involved in the worship services.” “I wish we could have more young people sermons.”
I was surprised to see that youth being involved with the worship service was the second most mentioned item on the wish lists. But then again, worship is one of the most discussed issues in the church. Sadly, worship is many times the most divisive issue in the church; especially, when we consider the young people and the adults.
The reason worship becomes divisive is because we forget what worship really is. Worship is not something that takes place for an hour on Sunday, worship is a lifestyle. Our entire life is a worship service to God. Paul wrote it this way in Romans 12, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.”
The way we live our entire life is a worship service for God.
However, as the church body, we gather weekly to worship God together. This is a good thing. The Hebrew writer said, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (10:25)
Gathering for worship is encouraged in the New Testament. But when we gather, we have to remember why we are here. It is not for our glory, but for the Lord. Every time I come into this place, I must remind myself that it’s not about me. And that is tough.
I think the main reason worship is divisive is because of people putting the focus on themselves instead of God. I love how Ben Merold put it, “I want there to be at least one thing each service I don’t like.” That way, he knew there would be something in it someone else liked.
If we went to a restaurant, we’d have the same menu… but we might not order the same dish. Food is a matter of taste. And in some respects, worship style is a matter of taste as well.
As we study the Bible we see there are two components of Biblical worship: Joy and Awe.
If you grew up in a more traditional background, you know worship has a sense of awe. The song leader might quote Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” You appreciate the quiet times in the worship service. It bothers you when people are disrespectful. It bothers you when someone wants to play loud music. “I can’t believe they want to bring drums in here!”
But if you grew up in a more charismatic background, you realize there is to be a sense of joy! The song leader would quote Psalm 47:1, “Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.” You appreciate a worship service that expresses thankfulness to God in an expressive way. And when people who have the joy aspect of worship see people who have the awe aspect of worship, they clash. “I can’t believe they want us to be quiet. Don’t they know Jesus isn’t dead?! This isn’t a funeral, it’s a praise service!”
Let me ask this question: Which side is right? Is it Awe or Joy? The answer is they are both right. When we worship, we must come joyfully before God. But we must also come with a sense of awe. We never want to forget that HE is God.
When worship becomes wrong is when one side forgets the focus is on God and places it on them. In the church, we must constantly remind ourselves that it’s not about me.
When we deal with generations in the church… worship tastes are different. And while we want to have worship our way, we must ask what will bring God the most glory.
But I also want to challenge the adults: what kind of legacy do you want to leave behind for your kids?
I’m afraid some churches have kept their pews and hymnals… but they’ve lost their young people.
Young people… I want to challenge you as well. These adults have sacrificed much for you. And I know that sometimes things may not be as fast as you want them to be… but always remember, there are other people who have worship tastes different from you.
The key to a successful worship is found in John 4. Jesus said His followers will worship in spirit and truth. Our worship service is nothing unless it is focused on God.
I know this was a difficult section of the sermon. The good news is it gets better from here on out.
This survey was very encouraging.
In fact, most comments from the adults were very positive concerning the young people. An 89 year old member wrote me this note on their survey, “Wade- first of all I’m so grateful that we have so many teens in our church.” I thought it is so wonderful to hear that from one of our adults.
It was really encouraging to tally up what the number one response was from the adults. The number one response that came from the surveys was for the young people to always stay close to Jesus. I was amazed at the love that came from everyone.
Here’s a survey from a member in their 40’s. “I wish the young people (knew) how important they are to the church family. I wish the young people knew the importance of Christ in their daily walk. I wish the young people know they need to go to God for answers, not the world.”
I sense a real concern from that individual for the young people.
I love this last one that I’m going to share. “I wish the young people could feel safe, loved and accepted within the church body. A place they never want to leave.”
That’s what each of us looks for… a place to belong. The great news is that God wants us to be in His family. God’s family is one where everyone belongs.
Yesterday I taught a workshop on Luke 15 at a teen convention. The point of that is to say, God wants you at the celebration.
When the church communicates clearly with each other… we will be the most effective for God.