Pastor Mark’s eNote – Our Generation
There’s an old saying, “The church is always one generation away from extinction.” Do you believe that? I’m not sure I do, for the simple reason that God is involved here. It is not entirely up to us to keep this thing going; the Holy Spirit is at work; and if we turn away, the Holy Spirit will find someone else.
On the other hand, I’ve seen the truth of that old statement. A few years ago, I was at a funeral home on the night before the funeral of a long-time church member. A lot of other people were there, too, including the daughter of the deceased, a woman that I’ll call Jane. I had met her before, though never at church. With Jane was her own daughter, a beautiful little girl of five or so that I had never met at all. “Susie,” Jane said, “this is MawMaw’s pastor.” “What’s a pastor?” the little girl asked. “He was her minister,” Jane replied. “What’s a minister?” little Susie responded.
Yes, there’s truth to the old statement. If you’ve ever been in a church that has no children or teenagers, a church where people just seem to be waiting for the end, you know what I mean. But I have to admit, too, that I’ve seen other churches with no children whatsoever who are involved in wonderful life-changing ministries in their community. Somehow, they keep GENERATING new hope, new life, new members of the Body of Christ. It isn’t age that defines a vital church.
So, I’d like to think of this “generation” thing differently. We usually define generations by cutting down through them like geological strata—top to bottom—Builders, Boomers, Gen-X, Millennials, etc. Instead, what if we define a generation by cutting horizontally across this moment? No matter our ages, we are one generation sharing this day and time.
Look at the heart and soul of a 90-something or a 20-something. They both bear upon their souls the image of the same God, and driving them forward in this world are the same desires for love, connection, meaning, purpose. Yes, there are differences in tastes and experience, but there is also a common ground of common seeking. And here at HMUMC, we have found in Christ our hearts’ desires. We are not defined by age but by the Savior who has called us home.
So, the next time you are inclined to ask, “What is the church doing for US?” think about how you define “us.” Builders, how can you help our church reach other Builders AND support our efforts to reach teenagers? Millennials, when was the last time you shared a ministry with a septuagenarian?
Yes, we are one generation away from extinction, but that generation includes all of our neighbors, young and old. We don’t want to miss any of them, and we are called to have a place for all. That’s not necessarily easy, but whoever said being faithful was easy?
Look around you this Sunday. See the students? The children? The retirees and young families? Together they are the generation that is Hamilton Mill UMC right now. Our generation. And together we are called to share the salvation, love, and truth we know in Christ. A whole new generation of young and old awaits the good news.