No matter what size congregation you are part of, you need new generations, AND new generations need you. Often in rural ministry the motivation driving our desire to engage new generations is to keep our church doors open, but I believe God has designed us to need each other.
Part of that need is simply understood around our theology of the body of Christ and the importance of each person playing their role in the body. However, if we remain on the surface of this belief, we tend to create generationaly divided sub-bodies. We may feel as though every role is filled, but if we lack new generations there is actually an important role not being filled.
Check out Acts 2:17-18. Peter has stepped forward on the day of Pentecost to correct and teach the crowd about what they have witnessed. The apostles were not drunk as the crowd had suggested, but God was at work filling them with His Holy Spirit. God’s spirit was not only to be poured out on the men who had been Jesus’ closest disciples, but on generations of men and women, young and old. Each generation would have something to offer the Church: prophecy, visions, dreams.
Still today new generations are needed in our churches for the creativity, energy, and passion they bring. They challenge us spiritually as we challenge them. Their passion has a way of keeping our own alive or infusing us with new life! Just as spending time with your grandchildren keeps you feeling young, so engaging new generations in the life of your church keeps your church young. Our vantage points are mutually beneficial to the vitality of the Church, but with out new generations, just as our bodies struggle with age, so our congregations struggle.
Here is the other side: new generations need you! They need the wisdom and tradition of your faith to inform the shaping of their own and ground them in Christ centered lives. They need you to train them in what it means to be part of the body of Christ. They need you to show them the love of God, their heavenly Father, and speak God’s truth in to their lives.
Together we are mutually encouraged in our discipleship and God uses each generation to mutually transform lives. As a youth pastor, one of my greatest joys is being part of this transforming work as I witness how a relationship between a youth and a mentor transforms not only that youth, but also the mentor. It is a beautiful experience of the Kingdom of God on earth!
How have you experienced the difference new generations make in your life and your congregation? If it hasn’t been positive and mutually beneficial, what has been your motivation around engaging them? If you would like focused assistance in getting your congregation to a place of mutual benefit, send me a message. If you have a story to share about engaging new generations in your rural ministry, I’d love to hear it! Leave a comment or send me a message!