Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Following the pattern of sound words

There is a trend in many large churches for the congregation to be split and organized according to generation/age lines. So the young adult/university age people get cordoned off into one cell group (or set of cell groups), young working adults into another and so on.

This works out in terms of fellowship; it stands to reason that most people would have an easier time connecting with people their own age and given the similar life circumstances (hey, have you ever seen NS men get together and complain about NS?), they get to share their difficulties/travails with people who'd understand.

It's a reasonably good system, particularly for smaller congregations. But for large churches (loosely defined here as churches with a membership of 600 and up) and mega churches ( membership of 1000 and up) this system is potentially problematic when it comes to the issue of christian guidance and discipleship.

I'll put it bluntly. A lot of young Christians or young people seeking to find out more about Christianity are liable (in large churches especially) to get stuck in a group of people their age who're probably nice to hang out with but are similarly situated and have no real answers for their questions.

(Yes there are exceptions but I'm not talking about the exceptions.)

My point is this, as God’s people, we need to lean on those who’ve gone before us. (This post is inspired Keith and Kristin Getty's post so the link to their post is on the line above as it was taken from their post)

On their post, they also wrote:-

“One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts.Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is faithful to all his promises and loving towards all he has made. My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever.” Psalm 145:4, 13, 21

"When I read this passage, I’m reminded that the praises and testimonies of one generation are to echo into the next. All ages serve and worship the same God, gather under the same gospel and add to the collective song that praises the faithfulness of God as each generation shares in his promises to us. We are part of something timeless, and the exercise of stretching our vision beyond ourselves leads us further down the road to an eternal perspective on all of life and our very reason for being."

When Moses wrote Deuteronomy, he spent so much time exhorting the Israelites to keep on telling their children about the wonders that God had done for them, how He had brought them out of Egypt, across the Red Sea and the desert. He reminded them over and over again to tell the succeeding generations who had not witnessed these wonders for themselves.

Christianity is, at the core, a historic faith. God chose to work through human history, the history of the people of Israel and so much of the bible is concerned with historical narrative, with the trials and travails of the people of Israel as they blundered about, got some stuff right, got a lot of other stuff wrong and somehow found themselves kicked out of their own kingdom. This history, when read together with the decretive/teaching sections of the bible, is meant to give us a holistic picture of who God is and how He has worked through His people.

I believe that this should be reflected in the church. That one generation of christians, who have gone before us in the faith should commend God's works to the next, telling of God's faithfulness, compassion and mercy. When we segregate ourselves into groups that have mainly teens or people in the same age group and fail to make essential connections with the older (and more rooted) members of church, we miss out on discipleship and teaching. Ideally, all older persons in the church should function as role models and mentors, modelling for us the Christian walk in growing sanctification and holiness.

Back to my example of people stuck in a group of people their own age - the thing is, it's fun and it draws a crowd. People like to fit in and have friends to kick back with - but is it all that church (or a christian fellowship) is supposed to be? Is it biblical?

"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season;reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
(2 Timothy 4:1 - Paul's last letter to Timothy)

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