I recently watched a 20 minute interview done by the young adults ministry at Grace Church in Noblesville, IN. It was brilliant. I have great love for this church and for what God does with these amazing people. This video was profound.
The concept was to discuss where the “Millennial” generation is going. It’s apparent they AREN’T coming to church, so what’s the deal? I think we could all agree it isn’t just this generation that is leaving, despite the insane reality that 80% of this generation, even those raised in the Church, will be fully disengaged by their 30th birthday. Many others are leaving also.
One line in the video said something to the affect that “just because they don’t go, doesn’t mean they are disinterested in spirituality”. HERE. Right in that space is where we have to move. We have to understand these statistics and what they are telling us. People are widely open to spirituality, and I believe immensely that they are open to Jesus. There are millions of reasons why people don’t attend church, but let’s not deconstruct that anymore. Let’s move towards construction.
What is it going to take for us to see the Spirit of God sweep through the disengaging population? They ARE open to the scriptures and it’s in this space we have seen the Spirit of God open new opportunities. We make disciples with people where they are. We teach them to invite others with them to discover that God is drawn to them. We have seen new expressions of church pop up in random places and we have seen many who left come back. May this grip our souls as we engage a population that longs for the freedom Jesus extends all of us!
Saying Goodbye to Oupa
It started off as a friendship. Then I asked him if he wanted to read the Bible. Then his staff joined him every morning to study and pray together. A few of them left the job, started new discipleship groups, some even went into ministry. It didn’t take long, and it was really straight forward.
Today I went to say goodbye to my friends at the coffee shop. Tears and hugs lasted over an hour and the customers were given quite a show. They brought a plate of food and a hot cup of coffee to my table and sat with me. They refused to print me a bill. The kitchen staff came out and gave me hugs. I never met them, but they were part of the group every morning. They had muggs of coffee waiting at a table when they saw me coming.
We found one another and good things grew from our friendships.
Oupa, you are my brother. I hold your heart and the heart of each of your staff in mine. Keep leading these young people in your care to the feet of Jesus and you will do well. I love you and all of your staff from the deepest places of my soul.
When you go to Mugg & Bean in Brooklyn, you are tipping angels. Tip generously and give them love. They are the treasure of heaven and you can feel it in every greeting.
Image for Missional Community
I was chatting a member of the South African team today about some opportunities they have presenting themselves in the area. I am not surprised by the opportunities, and I expect there will be many many more like them. As new communities are formed and multiplied by these guys, there’s a question about how to help in the process without being domineering or intrusive. Not everyone needs our help to form missional communities, some just need a cheer leader. So what is the right response when wanting to help friends give birth to new expressions of church throughout the city?
The image that came to mind was one of a hot ember. I was sitting by a fire in our fireplace last night, so perhaps that’s where inspiration came. The apostolic calling is (in my current opinion) about paying attention to hot embers that are burning throughout the city. I think that takes form in a variety of ways and places. Our role is pay attention and gently blow oxygen on that amber until the fire ignites again. There is an art form to knowing how much to blow, when to stop (or transition away), and when to add more fuel around it.
Fire is what we want. Fire that not only sustains itself, but fire that spreads throughout the region. I believe this is the task of the missional community and the role we play in the larger work of the Church in a region. We want to be busy helping to sustain existing fires (supporting local churches) while also looking for those lost embers that are outside the reach of the fire pit. Our experience has seen that some embers return to the fire to make it burn brighter, while other embers form new fires where they are already planted. Ultimately, it is the Church that wins, and this is just our piece in the larger story of God’s work in a region.
Partially in Boston
I’ve been torn apart this week. I was already finding myself living in this highly elevated sense of liminality while I wrap up the final pieces in South Africa. As you would imagine, our hearts are starting to move towards Boston as we pray about the things God has for us to accomplish there. This isn’t to say we are falling out of love with our friends in South Africa either. Everything is just… it’s changing and it’s changing quickly and slowly at the same time. I don’t know how to explain that, it’s just weird.
When the bombs went off on Monday, I heard immediately from the folks we’ll be joining in the city. Everyone is accounted for in that group. It doesn’t shake the trauma though. I was encouraged by the things many of the clergy were writing for the city and I’m hopeful that the spirit of fear will dissipate in the presence of the Spirit of God. God has already been doing amazing things in the region, and that will continue to grow and expand. No doubt about it.
For me, the emotion is one of restlessness. I am ready to be there and be through the transition phase. But I know better than to rush the process. God has had a lot for me to wrestle through in this week and it’s been painful as usual to be faced with your junk. I pray now that the lessons He has for me in these moments will take deep root in my soul so I can accurately love New England and join God and his people in advancing kingdom life there.
As a many of you pray with us, I’d ask specifically tonight for Ezra and on Saturday for Keziah as we begin farewells with their close friends. These moments make my heart ache for them. I hold out hope in the knowledge that God redeems pain and calls out new life in new ministry assignments. Still hurts though.
Keziah homeschools Malachi