One of my great loves of serving in a multi-generational church is working with young leaders. Yes, they seem to get younger every year, but that’s a different conversation. We had to recently start a new Small Group for students and career people in their late teens and early twenties. For some reason, our young adult group (who are mostly in their late twenties) was “old” to them. I LOVE problems like that!
Jason, a high school student, was a student leader at children’s camp this past summer. On the last night of camp, the Holy Spirit spoke to a number of student leaders and other staff about their need to fully commit themselves to follow Jesus, no matter where He leads them nor what He wants them to do. Jason came to me that night with tears in his eyes. “I believe that God is calling me to be a missionary,” he said. Ever since then, he has stepped up his role as a student leader in our youth ministry. Last Sunday, he showed up in the “green room” before one of our services.
"Why are you here?” I asked him. Sometimes he sings with one of our bands.
“I just wanted to come and pray with you guys before the service,” he said. He knows that some intercessors gather before each of our services with the people who will be up front leading. We pray, asking God to use us as we worship and share His Word with the people.
I LOVE young leaders! Did I already sorta say that?
In a recent conversation with our staff, I told a story about how we used to go out on Monday nights and try to visit everyone who had filled out a visitor card on Sunday morning. We would go up to their front door unannounced..we didn’t call first because we didn’t want them to tell us it wasn’t a good time. They would usually invite us into their home, letting us interrupt Monday Night Football and we would talk with them about Christ. We would also answer their questions about our church.
Any of you who have been around churches for a LONG time will remember doing things like that. It was normal. Well, when I told a story about it to our staff, at least one of our young leaders started rolling her eyes and laughing. “You really did THAT?” she asked incredulously.
“Yep, that’s how we did it,” I replied. "Every Monday night." It turns out that she was horrified, which made me stop and think about how much our culture has changed. These days, if someone rings MY doorbell after dark, I go to the door wary of just who might be there and why. I rarely expect that I will either invite or let them in. Even when it’s someone I know and I do ask them in, it’s hard not to consider it an interruption. Believe me, I have plenty of interruptions (you do, too) so I treat them gently…at least most of the time. Still, arriving unannounced at my door is NOT the best method to influence me in a positive way.
I had another conversation Sunday. This time, it was with some older followers of Jesus. Somehow, we got onto the topic of how churches have changed over the years. I told them that I read about churches long ago (say 500 years) that wouldn’t be anything like churches are today. It always amazes me how God’s people through the ages sought the leadership of the Holy Spirit and found ways to reach out to their generations with the love of Jesus and the life-changing power of the Gospel.
We don’t knock on doors on Monday nights anymore. If your bell rings, it probably isn’t us. But we are finding ways to show and share the love of Christ that work pretty well in 2015. It’s all part of “40 Days of Community” and I can’t wait to talk with you about it this weekend at Stone Ridge Church. Can’t join us? Catch the podcast!