Generational differences in the church

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve been thinking about generational differences in the church. Not just the “how do we attract millennials” stuff that’s so popular these days, but more of “how do we best utilize the resources of all generations.”

I’m torn between two poles. One is seen in Paul’s advice to Timothy:

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12)

We can’t dismiss people merely because they’re young.

The other pole is seen in the story of Rehoboam in 1 Kings 12. After his father, Solomon, died, Rehoboam was made king. Solomon had taxed the people heavily, and the people asked Rehoboam for some relief. Rehoboam consulted the elders, and then he consulted his peers. As the Bible says, ““Rejecting the advice given him by the elders, he followed the advice of the young men…”, and Rehoboam destroyed the kingdom before he ever began to rule.

We can’t dismiss people merely because they’re old.

I want to talk a bit, but I’d love to hear your insight. How do you see things in your church? Is it youth-driven or youth-ignoring? Does experience count or is everything past irrelevant? I’m especially curious to see if you feel that your age group is empowered or not.

(I’m expecting a flood of commenters who don’t usually participate on this blog, what with all of the generational justice advocates out there)

Links to Go (September 15, 2014)

Josh Graves on Reading the Bible (and Being Read by the Bible)

Rather, in the long run, I think the progressive Churches are taking some time to consider all their options and find a direction that may not be that well trod. Maybe there’s a better approach that 30 years ago we could only glimpse. Maybe we have the chance to be far truer to the scriptures than we could have imagined when this all started.
After all, the goal is not to leave legalism but to come as close as possible to the heart of God. And surely God is best understood in light of the fullness of the entire Bible.

Dear Fundamentalist Trolls: You’re Not Helping Anyone (and I say this in love)

  • “Is my tone loving?”
  • “Am I judging someone I don’t even know?” (and if you are, DON’T POST THE COMMENT.)
  • “Would I make this comment, and make it the same way, if I were having a face to face conversation with this person?”
  • “Does this comment make the message of Jesus more attractive?”
  • “Is my comment edifying, helpful, or uplifting?”
  • Finally, read your comment and ask yourself “Does this sound like something Jesus would say?”

4 Habits of Punctual People

  1. They’re realistic thinkers
  2. The give themselves buffer
  3. They’re organized
  4. They’re comfortable with downtime

Steve Jobs Was a Low-Tech Parent

Children under 10 seem to be most susceptible to becoming addicted, so these parents draw the line at not allowing any gadgets during the week. On weekends, there are limits of 30 minutes to two hours on iPad and smartphone use. And 10- to 14-year-olds are allowed to use computers on school nights, but only for homework.

Preachers and preaching styles

7eb33edc0158b7a592b746f5277444341587343I want to bring out one more point from Flavil Yeakley’s Why Churches Grow. This one is especially for preachers.

In his studies, Yeakley looked at the preaching style of the preacher. The preachers were asked to self-report on the style that they favored. One style was deemed positive, seeking to provide encouragement, inspiration, and instruction to the audience, with a focus on believers. The other style was deemed negative (with “corrective” being the term favored by most preachers), seeking to convert non-believers and point out the errors of other religious groups.

It’s interesting to note that the preachers who self-identified as “positive” almost exclusively used the more effective open dialogue style of evangelism. And their churches grew. Those that self-identified as “corrective” favored the more directive evangelistic styles we saw the other day. Only 2 out of 27 in this group were in churches that were experiencing significant growth.

That’s one point that I could definitely see as changing with time and culture. If you were to guess at what we might see today, or in the place where you live, what would you expect the results to be?

Links To Go (September 12, 2014)

Responding to Critics of “Act Like Men”

But, I was just left dissatisfied with all the shouting this caused in blogtown.
So, instead of breathlessly proclaiming (as some did), “Oh no, someone mentioned gender in the Christian blogosphere,” we should say to a world where men are acting like boys, “Act like men.”
If you create a world where men cannot challenge men, you undermine what is part of the obvious intent and application of that verse (and many others).

Women Like Me Are Abused Worldwide. Here’s Why.

So I would like to add my voice to that of Mr. Carter’s, calling for change in the way women are treated. But I take exception to the reason that he gives for this discrimination. He says that it is religion. I say that it is sin.

5 Ways to Connect with Millennials

  1. Make Room for Meaningful Relationships
  2. Teach Cultural Discernment
  3. Create Reverse Mentoring Opportunities
  4. Teach Connection Between Vocation & Discipleship
  5. Facilitate Connection with Jesus

Just Because the Door is Open Doesn’t Mean I’m Welcome Here

Churches tend to take on the cultural influences and traditions of its members and community, but how many predominantly white churches own a white identity and name its culture as being white? The Korean immigrant church of my youth owned it in name (written in both Korean and English), language, and food but it often failed at reconciling the generational gap that grew between the Americanized youth and the Korean elders. More often than not, predominantly white churches won’t claim being culturally white but rather try to emphasize a Christian identity.

When Certainty Kills

However, what if we are placing certainty in all the wrong places? Is it possible that certainty itself has become God for many Christians? Our worship of certainty may be tantamount to idolatry. For if certainty grants confidence then confidence fuels conversion of others to that certainty. That progression, from certainty to confidence to conversion, the three dangerous “Cs,” has been the undoing of so many young and old Christians alike for centuries. After a crisis in certainty leaves their beliefs on the scrapheap of faith, like the young freshman, they throw up their hands in frustration over just what we are “converting” people to. And that’s the point of the gospel.

Why You May Not be as “Conservative” as You Think

I want to say how much I appreciate my brothers in sisters in Christ who seem to be so consistent – and truly conservative – in their Christian walk. They follow the New Testament pattern on things like worship, church organization, and purity; and they also follow the New Testament pattern on issues like grace, brotherly love, and evangelism. It is these brothers and sisters who give me the greatest hope for the future of the church.

“All the Law and the Prophets…” in a piece of fruit

So yeah. The fruit was a big deal. If I may be so bold as to say it again, it represented a God-alternative that asked for their heart, soul, mind, and strength. But fortunately for us, God didn’t let the story end there. In the very same chapter of Genesis 3, God promises to send another, a singular offspring of woman, a snake-crusher.

Ray Rice, Hypocritical Outrage, and Objectifying Victims

One person tweeted that he wishes they would divorce and Ray Rice have to live in a foreign country. Christians, what should we hope for in this matter? Should we not hope that this entire sordid affair is turned into a manifestation of the gospel and its power to reconcile even perpetrator and victim? Should we not hope that not only will they stay married, but that they would prosper and ultimately raise godly children? Could Ray Rice himself become a powerful witness against the destruction of domestic abuse?

Apple Pay Could Make You Poorer

Of course, convenience matters, and all things considered, Apple Pay will probably be a great boon. But a warning for prospective users: When consumers don’t use cash, and when payment is simple, they often ending up spending a lot more than they otherwise would — and regretting it later.

Fort Mill man calls ‘base’ on police after car chase

After several minutes, the SUV came to a stop in Lafferty’s driveway. The driver then reportedly disobeyed instructions to stay in the car and instead started walking toward his home’s front door. When told he was under arrest, Lafferty said, “You can’t, I’m on base,” and reached out with his hands to the side of the house.

Why people stay in church

7eb33edc0158b7a592b746f5277444341587343Let’s continue to talk about ideas that Flavil Yeakley presents in his book Why Churches Grow. Though the book is several decades old, many of the ideas presented fit today’s churches as well.

The last couple of days we’ve looked at evangelism. Yeakley’s focus is broader than that; he’s also interested in retention. Not surprisingly, just as it showed when looking at evangelism, Yeakley’s research points to relationships being the key to retention.

Succintly, Yeakley states:

These data suggest that when subjects formed personal relationships with members of the congregation, they were likely to remain faithful. When they did not form such personal relationships, they were likely to drop out of the church.

In his study of 100 people, those who formed six or more new friendships after their conversion stayed in the church; those who formed three or less, dropped out. Half of those who dropped out had found two or fewer new relationships. None of those who dropped out had formed more than six. None of those who stayed had formed fewer than three new relationships.

Again, my experience shows much of the same. It’s not about worship style nor church politics. It’s about people. Relationships. Friends.

The one most important thing that a church can do to grow is to be a welcoming church. That needs to go beyond giving a smile and handing someone a bulletin. People want to be a part. They want to find a loving fellowship.

Maybe that’s why Jesus said this: “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35)