Orienting for Glory

This coming Sunday marks the first of six straight weeks in which our adult Bible classes here at Central are pairing up with one another in an effort to better live what we preach in intergenerational, multi-cultural relationships. If you’re one of our members at Central, for six straight Sundays you’re going to be in a Bible class with people who are not your age. Their kids won’t be the same age as your kids. Their salaries might not match yours. Some of these people may come from completely different backgrounds, have completely different viewpoints, and sport a completely different skin color than yours. For six weeks a lot of you will listen to teachers you’ve never heard in a classroom you’ve never visited.

It’ll be different.

We’re all going to be pushed out of our comfort zones. We’re all going to experience a little vertigo as we get used to the different people and different styles. We’re all going to have to give a little, to bend a bit, to sacrifice and serve to make this happen.

It’ll be difficult.

But this is not a move to disorient us. It’s actually intended to orient us. This is an effort to orient us to that blessed day when all of God’s children are together around that one table at the eternal wedding feast of the Lamb. Different colors and languages, different ages and styles, different backgrounds and sets of experiences — yet, one people around one table.

That glorious day is coming. God has promised it, Christ Jesus died and was raised for it, and the Holy Spirit is working toward it. And we should live our lives today in great anticipation. We should be leaning into it daily. Looking forward to it, practicing it, getting ready for it.

It’s only an hour on Sunday mornings for just six weeks. But our prayer is that it’ll go a long way in helping us experience and express our Father’s holy will for his Church.

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The 1,000th posting on this five-year-old blog is going to happen before the end of October. And I’d like to celebrate that weird little milestone by giving you, the readers, brand new copies of some of the great books that have informed and shaped my thinking and writing and preaching. We’ll hold a drawing on the day of that 1,000th post. The only way to enter the drawing is by posting comments between now and then — see the end of yesterday’s post for details on how you can enter your name up to 14 times. You can enter multiple times, but you can only win one prize.

Grand Prize – all three books in John Mark Hicks’ series on the sacraments of the Church of Christ: Come to the Table, the book that launched my continuing quest to better understand Christ’s meal; Down to the River to Pray, a wonderful call to restore Christian baptism to the center of the life of the Church; and A Gathered People, a beautiful look at the ways God works in our corporate assemblies to transform us into the image of his Son.

First Prize – Resident Aliens, Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon

Second Prize – Surprised by Hope, N. T. Wright

Third Prize – The Reason for God, Timothy Keller

Fourth Prize – The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis

Fifth Prize – The Jesus Way, Eugene Peterson

Peace,

Allan

 

4 Comments

  1. Rob's Dad

    love the idea of mixing the classes. Couple of questions – what caused you to do this and how did you decide on the class mix?

  2. Allan

    Here at Central we are very segregated by age in our Bible classes, our small groups, and our Family Life Groups. That’s not unlike most churches. But over the past year here, we are recognizing that it’s not a healthy experience or expression of God’s Kingdom. The more we’ve looked into it, we’ve come to see that we’re segregated to some extent by socio-economic status, too. And if Christ died on the cross to break down the barriers, we figure we should be in the same business. I’d hate to spend my first three or four years in heaven trying to get used to everything. If we lean in to and practice some of these things here, it won’t seem so new to us on that day of glory.

    So, since January, we’ve really been focused on getting us all out of our segregated ruts. We cancel children’s worship on the fourth Sunday of every month to make sure we’re at least ocassionally all in the worship center at the same time. We spent a lot of energy and effort this summer with our Running the Race series on Wednesday nights in which we all ate together, worshiped together, and played together. And combining our Sunday Bible classes seems like a good way to keep the momentum going. We’re putting older people on our youth committees, we’re organizing the congregation according to neighborhoods instead of age, and we’re combining a bunch of our ministry efforts to make sure they overlap with all the groups in our church.

    As for the class pairings, we took class size into account. We wanted to mix the ages, but we couldn’t put a class of 17-people in their 20s with a class of 70-people in their 70s. They’d get swallowed up. We also considered the teachers and class leaders and the relationships between them that already existed. They have to be able to work together so there is intentional mixing and conversation and even unity events outside the class settings. And it was important that we had at least one elder and one minister in each pairing, to continually emphasize the value we see in what we’re doing, and why.

    It won’t be easy. Or simple. Nothing worthwhile ever is. But our people seem to be excited about the potential. And we all appear to be committed to the hard work to pull it off. Help us, Lord; here we go!

  3. jason reeves

    The only book out of your list that I’m missing is “Surprised by Hope.” Why don’t you just send me that one?

  4. Allan

    I’d also have to send somebody to read it to you.

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