Drayton Naybers has watched a lot of young guys win the Heisman trophy.
And he says you can tell a lot about a guy’s character by his acceptance speech.
Sometimes they will just credit their hard work and weightlifting, or natural talent. But Naybers will ask, who taught you to work hard? Or bought the equipment? Who built the university, or recruited your teammates?
Who gave you the DNA in the first place?
“If this player has humility, he will express nothing but over-flowing gratitude when he wins-to his parents, to his teachers and coachers, to all the players on his team, and to everyone who helped him along the way…Humility actually is a form of wisdom. It is thinking clearly. It is simply being realistic. It is knowing who really deserves the credit and the glory for what we do
I like that, it’s not humility, it’s actually just being realistic.
For every sermon I write, this picture is the background of the computer desktop. It’s a picture of my friend, Brian leading singing at the little 10 member church I grew up in. I write with this picture in mind, because this is who I write for, most of the people in this picture are dead, but it is when the saints gather for church that I feel they are the most present.
They say that preachers help form churches, but the reverse is true as well. Churches form preachers.
On an average Sunday morning, our congregation consisted of Bro. Foy, the patriarch of the church, who was more than a little mentally unstable. I’m not joking, and he is the reason I’m a preacher, because mentally unstable makes very interesting sermons, and passionate preaching. There aren’t many memories from my church childhood that don’t involve Bro. Foy.
The first funeral I ever did (I was 14), he wrote for me. I remember sitting up behind the pulpit with him, and him telling me that I was going to do just fine.
Words like liberal and conservative couldn’t be used to describe us, and we never used them ourselves. We argued, like any human community, and there were tense times (like when Foy started preaching against women wearing pants), but we apologized and forgave quickly.
We had too, after all we took communion together.
I saw the beautiful thing that is a community of reconciliation, and you’ll never convince me that this is not something worth giving my life for. But this kind of experience is rarely the case anymore. The common assumption is that for a church to grow they must specialize in one slice of the human pie.
From Generation to Generation
Over the past few years, I’ve read and heard some church consultants giving the advice that, in order to grow numerically, a church needs to pick between targeting people of under 40, or over 40. I hate that suggestion. I think it works against the very nature of Church, I think it helps us lean into our own selfishness and away from the people who we need to be frustrated by.
So next week, I’m going to talk about it. If you’re in Abilene, I’d like to invite you to come to the ACU Summit (Lectureships). For three days next week I want to talk about the biggest crisis I think the Church is facing. I want to talk about the ways we are trying to address it, and I’d also like to find out how other churches are dealing with it.
Again, this is not a crisis of morality or lack of fidelity to the gospel, or anything that stirs up controversy. The problem is that it is really hard to be a church of five different generations. More to the point, we are not able to get older people and younger people to hang out together anymore.
So much of the Scriptures are trying to create ways for one generation to pass on faith from one generation to the other., worked into the first five books of the Bible is the idea that this is the story that you tell your kids, for them to tell their kids. Paul even dedicates major portions of his pastoral letters giving practical ideas for how the churches he planted could do this.
And since we no longer live in the age of potlucks and bunko…how do we prioritize this at the local church level? How do we emphasize generational generosity and create atmospheres conducive for our senior saints to rub shoulders with our younger adults? How do we help each generation see how much they need the wisdom and perspective of the people around them?
These aren’t just rhetorical teasing questions…I’d love to hear your ideas, especially if you won’t be able to make it to Abilene. I hope to get some new ideas on how to implement this, and I may share some of your ideas in the class.
I’ve been greatly blessed in my life with godly mentors who have been willing to sacrifice to pass on the Gospel to some chump kid who they decided to invest their life in. I’m convinced the best thing I can do with my life, is to try and stand on the people’s shoulder who have gone before me, and leave something for the person who are coming after me.
In a world that tries to get me to believe that the universe spins on a top with me at the center, it’s good to be reminded that I am a tree in a story about a forest.
And the story of the forest is way better than the story about the tree
That’s what being part of a church is, we’re not doing that, that’s our crisis, and it’s time to talk about it.
(The class is meeting in Hart Auditorium 1:15-2:05)