How do we do this? Community. Family in a congregational setting. It doesn’t matter the size of your church, you have many different opinions and viewpoints, different ways of receiving and responding, competing ways of experiencing and expressing the Christian faith within your congregation. There are different values and priorities. And a whole lot of that breaks along the lines of generation.
The Builders generation constructs an auditorium, installs carpet and pews, and calls it God’s House. They show up every Sunday in their suits and ties and nice dresses. And when they’re in church, they show respect.
The Baby Boomers have all the money. They pay for everything (thank you). And they want more: more programs, more buildings, more ministries; bigger and better and louder. When they’re in church, everything had better run smoothly.
The Gen Xers are the consumers. They wear blue jeans to church and bring their coffee with them. And that makes the Builders shudder. Their kids are loud. And that makes the Boomers cringe. When the Gen Xers are in church, they’re comfortable.
The Millennials and Generation Y and Generation Z and whoever is sitting with the youth group want experiences. They want action. They think saving whales is just as important as saving souls. They come to church wearing whatever they had on last night. And when they’re in church, they’re looking for something to do.
Bringing all these people together under one roof, together as one body, is hard. Because we think differently. We behave differently.
If we’re in the middle of a worship service and the electricity goes out and everything goes dark:
The Builders would sit in their pews and shake their heads. “Why aren’t we taking care of our building?” They’re embarrassed. Ashamed. And they sit there in the dark until 11:30, because that’s when church is over.
The Boomers would get on their phones and call an electrician and pay him the quadruple-overtime it would take to come over and get this power turned back on immediately. “Nobody move!”
The Gen Xers would call Home Depot and rent a generator. “That’s all we need.”
The Millennials would get up and leave. But they’d feed 94 homeless people and adopt twelve children on the way home.
Generations Y and Z would grab a guitar and head over to the park, sit under a shade tree, and sing a worship song they wrote at Taco Bueno the night before. They’d take a picture, post it on Instagram, and call it the best worship experience they’ve ever had.
There are differences between us every Sunday on every pew. How do we do this?
God’s Spirit tears down all the walls and brings us together and keeps us together. I can’t explain it; I don’t know how he does it. But he holds us together by his Spirit.
“You who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility… His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity…thus making peace… For through him we all have access to the Father by one Spirit.” ~Ephesians 2:13-22
Paul goes on to write in this chapter of Ephesians that we are all fellow citizens with God’s people and members together of God’s household. We belong to God and we belong to one another. We are being “built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”
We are joined together. We do life together. We rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn together. We bear one another’s burdens together. We consider the needs of others more important than our own together. God has brought us together and he’s not finished with us yet. He’s still working on us, changing us, transforming us, and empowering us by his Spirit to proclaim his Kingdom and the lordship of his Son by the ways we love each other and get along.
So, younger people, sing the older, slower songs you hate for the sake of the community. Pay attention to the Scripture readings, shake hands with the older guy in the back in order to bless others in the family. Older people, sing the newer songs you hate and, maybe, clap your hands for the sake of the community. Smile during the skit or the video clip, ask the younger guy down front about his car or his soccer team in order to bless others in the family.