Shortly after I first launched this blog (in 2018), I was attending a rural ministry conference and got to speak with several people about this new resource I was developing. One woman replied, “Oh yes, I read that once. It is too much about reaching children and youth. We don’t have any kids.” I hope that my response at the time helped to expand her understanding of what it means to make new generations of disciples, but I’m not sure it did.
I also hope that since then she and others have found the continued development of this resource to be helpful to churches in a variety of contexts. Just to be clear, let me share this story originally shared on Facebook by my friend Angela Pleasants:
Often, we see the age we are through the lens of how the world views that particular age. So, we begin to make excuses based on someone else’s perception. A small congregation in Morganton with mostly seniors was concerned about their declining numbers. The church’s location was not seeing the growth of young adults, yet they tried to develop a ministry to target young adults.
I met with the congregation and listened to their concerns about not attracting young adults. I asked them, “Who told you to focus solely on that particular demographic?” They responded, “Every time we attend training events, the focus has only been on attracting young adults. We were told we seniors are dying, and if we want to grow, this is who we need to reach.”
I did a study in this area and saw that it was mainly retirees. So, I helped the congregation to see through their reality and not someone else perspective. We will always have seniors because people continue to grow older. Finally, reality dawned, and they said, “Why don’t we become a senior ministry church?” A year later, the church was thriving as a senior ministry church.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere-in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8 NLT. The Holy Spirit does not stand back and say, “I can only rest upon the young adults to the exclusion of seniors.”
Jesus said we would receive power. That means no matter our age; we are empowered with the presence of the Holy Spirit. And, he has given each of us gifts and empowers us with the ability to serve. Everything we do is a witness to our Lord, Jesus Christ, that his mission will be known and received throughout the world. We have diverse natures and a variety of ways we use our gifts. No matter your age, be your authentic self. (End Quote)
No matter your demographic, share the Gospel with your neighbors! Reaching new generations doesn’t have to mean children or youth. It might mean older adults. If you desire that your church will continue to offer salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ to your community for generations to come, you’ve got to be reaching the people who are right in front of you today.
If you would like further support in leading your church to appropriately define and reach “new generations” of disciples in your community, please contact me! I would love to connect with you!
Also, do you have a story of rural ministry to share? Your story might encourage and inspire others, so I’m always looking for pastors or lay persons to interview as well! Send me an email!