Do you remember the middle school bridge building competition? It was in the spring of 8th grade, I believe. The teacher gave us toothpicks and Elmer’s glue and instructed us to use the principles we had learned to attempt to build the strongest bridge. I don’t remember all of the principles, but I do remember they dealt with various ways to disperse the tension caused by the weights we would be adding in the competition. I also remember that triangles are stronger than squares.
Building bridges between new generations and the rest of the congregation is a key factor in rural ministry, and I have found that it is often easier than we think. This year has been a confirmation year in our church. We have 9 middle school students who have been participating in the course! The other day, I was preparing fabric to make stoles and remembered what a wonderful bridging opportunity that is. In a previous congregation, we had a quilting group whom I had asked to take on this task. It was a wonderful way for these older ladies to make a connection with, pray for, and bless our confirmation students.
Something as simple as cutting a few straight lines becomes a powerful bridge when we add prayer and intentionality. These students may be feeling pressure to understand all that they have been taught or tension around juggling all of their other activities with the church responsibilities they are about to agree to. The prayers and loving connection of the quilters’ circle may help to bring peace to their souls and relieve some of that pressure through the grace of Jesus Christ.
Read Galatians 6:2-10. Here Paul reminds us that one way to “fulfill the law of Christ”, love God and one another, is to carry each other’s burdens. We may not always know what those burdens are, but God uses us to accomplish this through prayer and loving connections. What simple bridges can you build between generations in your congregation? Or, what skill or interest do you have to offer that might personally connect you with someone of a new generation?
A final thought: You may have heard elsewhere about the triangle as a symbol for strong relationships: the closer you get to God, the closer you get to each other. It is often used in weddings or marriage counseling, but I believe it applies to all of our relationships in the Church as well. As we seek to love one another, that relationship is strengthened by our mutual love for God. We are connected by grace through the blood of Jesus Christ. Let us not forget to connect the bottom of the triangle by extending grace to one another.