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.
2. Practical problem- Even someone focused solely on numbers needs to realize that here in the US the culture is becoming more multiethnic. Advances in travel and technology, the increase of immigration to the US, and the decline of the population of established ethnic groups in the US (Public school students in US mostly white is no more: National Center for Education, minorities will account for 50.3% of public school students), has changed the landscape in which the church ministers and has changed the dynamics that best aid church growth. A study performed by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research in 2005 concluded that “while most congregations in America are composed of a single racial/ ethnic group, those that are multiracial are most likely to have experienced strong growth in worship attendance.”
Different congregations need to connect
Cultural differences, congregational rivalries, and a spirit of ultra independence prevents us from partnering together for the good of God’s kingdom.
WCEF and Camp. What are the benefits:
We realize that we are not alone, other Christians with same doctrine
Discover how other parts of the body do church
We are able to share where we are successful and appreciate where others are successful and learn from each other and improve.
Appreciate cultural differences, how they minister on State Avenue in Cincinnati is different from how we minister here at Pleasant Ridge. One is not right or wrong it is just different
But they are not doing it right. Need to determine what is right biblically and then “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” Romans 15:7.
Different personalities need to connect
People differ in their personalities and dispositions. That will never change as long as man exists on this earth! What a disturbing message we, as Christians, send out to a lost and dying world when we allow such behavior to divide us! A differing personality, in and of itself, does not make for a "bad" person! Webster defines the word "personality," "The distinctive qualities and traits of an individual." Our family of 6 consists of 6 individuals with 6 different and unique personalities. We don't always see "eye-to-eye." At times, our various personalities conflict with one another, but we don't "quit one another" or go off in a "huff " never to be seen or heard from again. To keep our family together, we have to work through those differences. The same is true among God's family here on earth.
It's startling to see a person go to such great lengths to maintain his relationships with the various personalities of people in the work place, and then makes little or no attempt toward preserving his relationship with a brother or sister in the Lord just because their personalities differ. He knows that if he wants to retain his employment, he must work at his relations with others! It just goes to show that many are more concerned with placing their earthly relationships above relationships in God's family, the church. Indicates our priorities.
“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no-one will see the Lord.” Hebrews 12:14, NIV. This "all men" includes brothers and sisters in the Lord. This "all men" includes you and me!
A small group, a dozen. Some of the members were short tempered and quarrelsome- often arguing about who should be in charge. The group included a zealous political activist, a thoughtful skeptic who often voiced his doubts, a tax agent (talk about an unpopular and stoic personality), and some fishermen known for their stormy personalities. Most of the time, the group had no comfortable building in which to meet, and their programs were nothing fancy- mainly just teaching, evangelism, and ministry to the sick. Some members became famous (Peter, John). Others we know very little about (James “the less”). Yet, this was Jesus’ chosen team- quite diverse, but connected by their common loyalty to him.
Challenge- Reach out to someone older or younger than you, reach out to someone ethnically different, reach out to someone in a sister congregation, reach out to a different personality