Generations Engaged = The Ceiling Raised

Below is a copy of a letter I sent to all members of our congregation who are at least 50 years of age.  If you can persevere and get to the bottom of the letter you will find a Children and Family Ministry Prayer/To-Do List for 2011 with 10 easy ways for those slightly older than our children and young families to get involved in ministry at First.

Friends,

I hope this letter finds you well.

2010 was full of ministry successes and ministry failures.  I’ve spent considerable time in recent weeks evaluating and planning for 2011.  This has been a wonderful time for me to reflect upon lessons learned and to consider ways in which to improve my leadership in the coming year.

As we look forward to 2011, I want to challenge you with a question–a question I’m now convinced I’ve frequently and publicly answered incorrectly numerous times this past year.

Who is the future of the Church?

Of course “Our children are the future of the church.” That seems like a natural and logical conclusion.  Young people will grow into older people who will then function as the leaders, teachers, and preachers in the Church.  Isn’t that obvious?  Young people are the future, right?

Careful reflection and further consideration has convinced me the Church’s future isn’t contingent upon the future choices of our children.  The future of the Church isn’t on hold until this generation of children grows up and at some mysterious point transitions from the present to the future.

I’m increasingly convinced that the future of the Church isn’t in the hands of our children, but rather rests on the shoulders of the oldest generation present within any particular body of believers.  This is a counter-intuitive claim.  It seems opposite of what the obvious answer should be.  Senior adults are the future of the church?

Lets consider Exodus 20:5-6 together.

…I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

A powerful, sobering, and even scary verse at first glance.  Surely a good and loving God wouldn’t cause innocent children, innocent grandchildren, or innocent great-grandchildren to suffer as a result of dad’s sin.  We don’t read in this text a promise from God: “If you worship idols and sin against me, then I promise I will punish your family to the 4th generation.”  We are reading what should be a very serious and stern warning, that in principle, if you worship idols and sin against God, then your sin will have a devastating effect on the future generations of your family.  It is this principle that has shifted my thinking about the future of the church.  In essence, Exodus 20:5-6 is saying…. “What we do today will directly influence a multigenerational cycle of family traits, beliefs and actions–for good or bad.” And therefore the future of the church rests very much on the shoulders of parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents.

The future of the Church isn’t somewhere out in the distance and dependent upon the future choices of a our children.  The future is much more urgent and is primarily effected by the decisions we make today.

This principle is wonderfully and sadly illustrated in the lives of the Patriarchs.  There are many wonderful things that can be learned from the life of Abraham; however, we shouldn’t fail to recognize and learn from his deficiencies as well.  Consider this progression and the heritage of lies that Abraham leaves to the generations to come.

Read:  Genesis 12:10-20 Read:  Genesis 20:1-7 Read:  Genesis 26:1-7
  • Abram fears for his life
  • Abram knows his wife is beautiful
  • Abram lies about his wife to Pharaoh for his own self-benefit.
  • Abram fears for his life
  • Abram knows his wife is beautiful
  • Abram lies about his wife to the King for his own self-benefit.
  • Isaac fears for his life
  • Isaac knows his wife is beautiful
  • Isaac lies about his wife to for his own self-benefit.
Read:  Genesis 27:1-24 Read:  Genesis 37:12-36 “What we do today will directly influence a multigenerational cycle of family traits, beliefs and actions–for good or bad.“ 

I’m grateful for It Starts at Home: A Practical Guide to Nurturing Lifelong Faith.  It has been a very helpful read for life and ministry and is the source that turned me on to this articulation of “The Legacy Principle.”

 

  • Jacob wanted his father’s blessing
  • Jacob lies to his father for his own self-benefit
  • Jacob’s sons were jealous of Joseph
  • Jacob’s sons sold Joseph into slavery
  • Jacob’s sons lie to their father for their own self-benefit

Abraham unintentionally passed down a negative character trait that had a devastating effect on the future generations of his family.  I pray we will learn from Abraham and that you and I will be more godly for his mistakes.  I pray that as we look forward together we will seize every God-given opportunity to directly and positively impact the future of the Church.

I thank you for your support in 2010 and will be counting on the same in 2011.  The future of the Church would be quite bleak without your support, leadership, and love.  I’ve included a 2011 prayer list and another list of easy ways to have an impact in Children and Family Ministry this year.

I thank God for each of you.

Joshua Cornett

Pastor for Children and Families

2011 Children and Family Ministry Prayer and To-Do List

Many of you already do so much and I’m so grateful.  I know that there are many others who are with our children and young families in mind and spirit, but physically aren’t able to be present.  Thank you all for making a massive difference in the future of this Church.

Pray that our children would…

  1. Love Christ (worship).
  2. Love others (service).
  3. Love the church (community).
  4. Love the Bible (Scripture).

Pray that our parents would…

  1. Pursue God with all their heart, soul, and strength.
  2. Pursue their marriages with all their heart, soul, and strength.
  3. Own their responsibility to equip, encourage, and hold accountable their children as they strive to love God with all their hearts, souls, and strength.

Here are some simple ways I’ve thought of to get involved and to leave a legacy of love…

  1. Intentionally sit next to and minister to young families in the worship service.
  2. Keep your eye-peeled for single moms or single dads during the worship service and invite them to sit with you.
  3. Visit a Young Adult or Children’s Sunday School class once a quarter.
  4. Better yet, adopt a Children’s Sunday School class and have breakfast together once a quarter.
  5. Sign up to work in the nursery during our extended hours program (Once every 8 weeks during our 8:30 service).
  6. Take a young family out to lunch.
  7. Write encouraging notes and cards to children (I’ll provide addresses).
  8. Attend Children’s Church once a quarter (Children’s Church dismisses from the 8:30 service and starts at about 8:50).
  9. Once a quarter hang out in the nursery foyer as a greeter on Sunday morning.
  10. Take hold of the discipleship principle in 1 Timothy 5 and invest in someone younger than yourself.

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