A Multi-generational Church
Something that’s very important in the New Testament church is that local assemblies are to be multi-generational. How do we know that? Because in Titus chapter 2 the older women are instructed to teach the younger women, and the younger men are to show respect to the older men.
You know what you need in order for that to take place? You need older people, as well as younger people! You can’t just have one or the other. Unfortunately, as we look at the landscape of evangelicalism, a chronic issue we see is that there are thousands and thousands of churches that are made up of little more than one generation. Either its the historic, established Southern Baptist churches that only have senior citizens in them, or its newly planted Southern Baptist churches that only have young people in them. More often than not, those churches view the generations that are absent from their congregation as a liability to ministry rather than an asset.
Why is that? Well it’s not hard to see. The issue is that nobody wants to give up their preferences. There are tremendous amount of churches that will literally have two different services on Sunday morning that cater to the preferences of different generations. A traditional service followed by a contemporary service. I would suggest to you that's not the best practice, and churches that do that shortchange themselves and stunt their spiritual development. A major part of being a member of a local church and discipling one another in that context means that we all have to learn to give some things up. Not just some people--all of us. And that’s a very good thing because it reminds us we aren’t in church for ourselves--we’re there to worship God and help others follow Jesus.
What things can we do that would make things more conducive and hospitable for young families to follow Jesus? What can we do for seniors? How about the widows? What can we do to show youth that they can play a vital role? Let’s not neglect to catechize our children and show them what church is really all about.
This comes down to the issue of truly having a heart towards others, and being willing to give up your own preferences if it means making things more conducive for someone else to follow Jesus. A New Testament Church isn’t supposed to be driven by preferences held by particular people—its to be a place where we show one another honor and defer to the preferences of others if it means creating an environment where they can flourish in their walk with Christ.
So what we aim to cultivate in our congregation is a sacrificial love, compassion, and desire in the hearts of individuals to see other people flourish here. We have to be intentional about sending a message that people of all ages and backgrounds can find their place as as an essential piece of the puzzle.
But we all know that these things seem so difficult because of issues of sin in the heart. So, Do you come to church for you? Are you here for yourself, or are you here for others? Do you have a heart for other people to know and follow Jesus as his disciples?
In Paul’s letter to the Philippian church when he essentially said, “Yeah, I might be all chained up and in prison for what I’ve preached, and it’s not exactly ideal…but who cares. My preferences aren’t important. The only thing that’s important is that the gospel is advancing!”
So help someone else follow Jesus by practicing intentional discipleship in a multi-generation context. You won’t have to go to prison for it, but it’ll cost you a little bit. It will cost you some time, and it’ll cost you some of your preferences--but it’ll bring you so much joy.
A few years ago I was in the home of some church members…and as we were talking I noticed a picture of them with their grandkids over at Chuck E. Cheese’s…
I looked over and asked the husband “You like Chuck E. Cheese’s?”
And he said, “Oh, not really…the pizza’s not very good and it’s loud. But my grandkids call and want us to go with them so we do!”
My guess is that if any of you were planning a dinner date out with your spouse…going to Chuck E Cheese’s probably wouldn’t be your first choice. But if your grandkids called and said ,“Grandma and Grandpa, let go to chuck E. Cheese’s!” I bet you’d grin from ear to ear, load up in the car, and go eat that pizza because you love your grandkids. Your preferences become secondary when you really care about someone else.
That’s the exact same way the Lord wants you to view your fellow members at FBC, as well as newcomers. Reject selfish preferences. Be "other people centered"—because when you’re focused on the spiritual growth of others then preferential stuff doesn’t seem to matter as much.