I am in the midst of a fun/interesting season of life, surrounded by new beginnings. I turn 31 today, so I’m officially “in my 30’s” instead of just 30. The Cubs finally won the World Series on Wednesday night, and so begins an era of baseball without the team of “lovable losers.” Next week, one of the most (if not, THE most) controversial and polarizing presidential elections will yield a new face and paradigm for the United States. I have also reformatted this blog in the hopes of reigniting my passion to empower others through writing, and encourage them as we journey together toward the future of the church.
When you start something (or in my case, restart something), getting a head start is advantageous for several reasons. I lost count Wednesday night of how many times the pitchers threw to first base last night, trying to tag out the runners who pushed for a head start to second. A few bloggers and columnists got a head start on the flood of articles and online reactions that will inundate us next week following the election of our new president (and the recount demands, FBI charges or other crazy things possibly happening). I hope a few of those articles remind us that arguing with people online is utterly useless, and showing love while pointing to hope is what’s expected of people who follow Jesus.
The head start that I want to obtain is a shared concept I believe the American (even global) Church should adopt quickly, practically, and intentionally: we need to prepare the younger and upcoming generations to have an effective, Christ-centered, Christ-minded faith. We are essentially called to replace ourselves in the body of Christ, and the greatest legacy available to us is making sure the next generation thrives.
Our local churches should be asking how young people are involved or affected with every programming decision, and every major outreach or vision initiative. Students should be invested in by leaders present in their lives, not just volunteers who sit in a classroom for an hour. This isn’t to say that church volunteers are detrimental if they aren’t engaging with students everyday…but intentionality is crucial. Speaking the truth won’t matter much if the people listening don’t think they are loved and valued by the speaker or people beside them in the congregation. The challenges and issues facing young people today should be on everyone’s minds, not just the volunteer leaders (and not just to be cynical about them).
Our churches need to re-evaluate how we see and minister to families, because the majority of families today aren’t comprised of a husband, wife, and their biological kids. Families are anything but “one size fits all,” so resources and perspectives in the classroom and from the pulpit need to be versatile.
It’s not the government’s job to bring about reconciliation, growth, and unity. It’s our job. If we don’t start listening and loving people where they’re at, I’m worried that the Church will increasingly be seen as it may already be seen by a large number of people: a big, judgmental bully who stuffs morals and faux-righteousness down your throat. Jesus didn’t say to change your neighbor as yourself. Interaction and discipleship must start with and be propelled by love.
Truth is important. Mission statements and church visions are important. However, without a foundation of love and an action plan of intentional strategy…those things will fade into true irrelevancy. So let’s be relevant! That doesn’t necessarily mean contemporary…those two terms are not synonymous. We are stewards of timeless truth, and we should present it in engaging ways that fit the needs of our church bodies and communities.
The investment of the next generation is a need in all of our church bodies. So let’s do something about it!
Thanks for joining me during this new beginning. Is there a new beginning happening in your life now, or soon? If so…think about how you’re getting a head start.