In a mere 48 hours, the first part to this blog received over 9,000 views and had over 2,000 shares. Guys, this is incredible! I am so excited that we are all talking about this. After much prayer, and reading and responding to many, many comments and messages (I was basically glued to my phone all weekend, driving my poor husband crazy), I have been able to better evaluate the things that I wrote and see some things from a different perspective. One of the biggest revelations was that the issues that I previously believed to be mostly based on generation, seems to be more based on personality. I had a first generation 70 year old tell me that he felt many of the ways that I do, and a fourth generation 20 year old say that she disagreed on many points.
There have been so many who have identified with these struggles, and as I expected, there have been many who have not. Regardless of how I personally feel about the points I brought up, everyone else’s feelings matter too, and in this second post, I would like to discuss all differing viewpoints, expound upon and clarify the points I was trying to make, and see if we can find a middle ground that will bring about more unity within the Body of Christ.
A big point I would like to touch on first is that I was in no way meaning this article to come off as a list of excuses or justifications for leaving the Church. Reading back over it I can see how what I wrote may have come across that way, and for that I am sorry. The point I was trying to make was that if those particular struggles are left to fester (either by the person them self or by the church), they can eventually lead to people leaving… whether that be their faith entirely, or just to find another church that better fits them. Some also saw my blog as an attack on the ministry and the churches, but my intention was only to let others who might share my struggles know that they aren’t alone, and to open the lines of communication in order to encourage one another. (Oh, and by “glory years” I meant the fact that everyone was all together in one big church and there were so many awesome opportunities for young people to be together such as Ambassador College. Hope that clears those things up!)
So with that, let’s discuss.
1. When you’re given something, it’s not so easy to appreciate it
The other viewpoint: That our fire has to be inwardly fanned as much as outwardly. We cannot expect others to give us the passion we need, we must find this passion through studying and prayer, and continually work to keep it going ourselves.
We are absolutely responsible for our own faith and zeal, and cannot only lean on the church to provide it. All I was trying to do was give an insight to first/second generation Christians by letting them know what their kids or grandkids may be struggling with today. Yes, the first and second generations had many unique struggles of their own, and had to make extremely difficult choices (I would not have wanted to have had to make some of those difficult decisions), but just because we were born into the Faith doesn’t necessarily mean everything is easy for us, or that we are not grateful. We are extremely grateful for the faithful people who came before us and have preserved God’s truth in a very sinful and morally lax world. As third and fourth generation Christians, I believe the whole reason we struggle with feelings of guilt is because we are so grateful, and get frustrated with ourselves when we are not exuding the kind of passion that we see in others and know we should have as well.
Job 12:12, “Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring about understanding?”
1 Tim. 4:12, “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity, show yourself an example to those who believe.” Let’s appreciate those in the 1st/2nd generations and all the wisdom they have to offer, and let’s make them proud of us by the ways in which we live for God.
Proactive ideas for change and bridging the gaps:
• Let’s constantly pray, asking God to give us the passion and zeal for His truth and way of life that we so deeply desire.
• Let’s get our noses in the Bible and keep up regular study. It is perhaps the best way we can come to know who God is and what He expects of us.
• Let’s talk more with those of the older generations and allow their zeal to aid in lighting our own fire! We tend to mostly converse with those of our own age group, and this needs to change. There is so much we can learn from one another (young and old alike) if we will give each other the chance and open the lines of communication.
• Could we set up some sort of mentoring program? Like a big brother/big sister type scenario? That way we could better bridge the generational gaps and help us learn from one another and create an even closer family type relationship between one another.
• Let’s make sure we are giving our messages with feeling and zeal! Fire is catching.
2. We speak a different language… one of vulnerability, openness, and creativity
The other viewpoint: Those in authority have made great strides to reach the young people. They have set up camps, leadership weekends, Friday Night Lives, Bible Studies, etc… and we are not appreciating it as much as we should.
I personally have multiple family members in pastoral and deacon/elder positions and I know firsthand how hard they work and how hard it is to please everyone. I love them deeply and greatly respect the blood, sweat, and tears they have poured into serving the church. I also recognize that there have been some big changes in the activities and opportunities being offered to young people, for which I am so appreciative. The fact that these activities and opportunities are being offered is very positive and encouraging.
Through my original post I hoped to give insight into how better to reach the young people, to create content that speaks to a broader audience and to talk about the issues that some of us are experiencing, that maybe they may not have been aware of.
Rom. 14:13- “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead make up your mind to not put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of your brother or sister.” Let’s make sure we aren’t causing our spiritual siblings to stumble by not teaching or encouraging them in ways they need.
Proactive ideas for change and bridging the gaps:
• Give messages that are more expressive and give us personal lessons and examples of things you’ve been through so we can learn from your experiences. Stories and personal experiences of the struggles of your Christian walk and how God has helped you overcome them speaks directly to our generation and allows us to better relate to both the messenger and the message. Being vulnerable at times shows us that you are human and have the same struggles that we do.
• Be bright and exuberant while giving messages and making videos drawing us in with your passion for what you’re saying.
• As young people, we need to be sure to show appreciation for all the wonderful opportunities the ministry has worked hard to provide for us by doing everything we can to attend and help serve in these events.
• Let’s talk to the ministry and proactively share ideas for topics that we feel would be helpful for younger generations to hear about. Let’s give them suggestions on how to potentially reach more young people, whether it be through short youtube videos on making unleavened bread or to starting a database for song writers in the church to upload and share their music with others.
3. We ache for more meaningful ways to serve
The other viewpoint: The church provides multiples areas to serve and we should be taking advantage of those opportunities instead of complaining that there aren’t enough ways that we personally “want” to serve. It’s not always about getting something out of the service ourselves, but what we are doing to help others.
Great point! I touched on this briefly at the end of the article where I encouraged 3rd/4th generations to be proactive, but I should have talked about it more. “Be the change you wish to see” has never been truer. We absolutely have to start taking responsibility for our personal service and stop sitting around waiting for others to “fix” everything for us. While some may see what I wrote as just that, I was honestly trying to be proactive and positive by encouraging discussion which would hopefully lead to everyone becoming more proactive. The ministry is strapped with many responsibilities and often times need more helpers to get everything done. It is up to us to fill in the gaps! If we truly want to have more areas in which to serve, then we should be willing to put in the effort to make it happen and not just expect it to be handed to us.
While I hold fast to my belief that some of the tradition and culture in the church could do with some updating, I realize that it will never perfectly fit all of my needs, nor anyone else’s. But, we should all be making an effort to make sure that everyone is at least getting some of their needs met. There should be a constant ebb and flow. Maybe you don’t learn well with a sermon filled with lots of history and small details, but realize that this may be the exact kind of message that other people need to hear. Let’s be gracious and serve one another by allowing them to learn and serve in the way that they need. When we all do this, when we “esteem others better than ourselves”, it creates a perfect harmonious environment where everyone is serving and being served.
1 Peter 4:10, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as God’s stewards of the manifold grace of God.” All different gifts should be allowed to be used within the Church, as they were given by God for that very purpose.
Proactive ideas for change and bridging the gaps:
•Maybe we could ask ourselves how many of our traditions are taken directly from the Bible and how many were put into place by HWA or other men. If the answer is the latter, then perhaps we could discuss possible appropriate ways of updating them.
While I realize that some of us are totally content with the hymns and type of music we typically have at our church, could we not begin to introduce some more modern, upbeat music at times? It would be great to see a wider range of music offered during church services, rather than just mostly one type.
• Work with your pastor or special music coordinator to find ways to contribute in the music program. Offer to help organize a musical group or ensemble that meets regularly in your local area and use it to fill in empty special music slots. Write some of your own music if you have that talent.
• Ministry, please be open to considering new ideas and suggestions from our younger generations, even if they may not be something that appeals to you personally. Items of personal preference that are brought up as a suggestion should obviously be things that are done “decently and in order” as well as be doctrinally sound.
• Find ways to serve those around your community as well if the needs of your congregation are being met. Volunteer at the Ronald McDonald house or Habitat for Humanity.
4. We don’t care about the politics, we just want to be together
The other viewpoint: The fact that we aren’t together is because of many more reasons than just politics.
I should have better clarified my statement on this point. I am well aware that there are many deeper issues that have caused us to be scattered into different fellowships at this time. The point I was trying to get across was that while the COG fellowships have differences of administration and customs, we still have a desire to spend time together with our spiritual brothers and sisters. Many of us would love for all the different Churches of God to be places where having visitors from other fellowships is welcomed. I realize that some fellowships have already done this, which is fabulous! In the end we are all brothers and sisters, and while it may not be possible at this time for us to merge the churches into one larger group, it would be wonderful to have open avenues to more easily love, appreciate, and embrace one another as part of a larger spiritual family.
Col. 3:13-14, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you have a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And of all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Let’s forgive any past histories we may have with one another and seek to love and unify the greater Body in any way that we can.
Proactive ideas for change and bridging the gaps:
• Let’s look for ways to open the lines of communication between the different COG groups to see where we might be able to encourage combined social/fellowship opportunities
• Could we find a way to share our Winter Family Weekends? Could we all agree on one city to meet in, and at least have our sports and social activities together?
• Could we open the doors to different fellowships in our areas by extending invitations to our church picnics, fun shows, and other activities?
• Could we find opportunities to work together on community service projects that would benefit others in need and let our Christian light shine?
5. We are inundated with distractions more than the generations before us
The other viewpoint: I have yet to find one (other than the fact that people of all ages say they struggle with distractions). Phew! At least there’s one we all agree on. 🙂
~~THE MOST IMPORTANT PART IS TO FOLLOW… KEEP READING… YOU CAN DO IT~
To those of you who do not share in the struggles that I listed in part one, I am genuinely happy for you! My husband is one of those people. He and I have very different personalities and learn in different ways, and while he doesn’t necessarily feel the way I do about everything, I appreciate the fact that he understands and accepts my differences. While our differences sometimes end up causing conflict, they also make us a more well-rounded couple. When we start to use our differences to help one another in a positive way and, realize that God created our different personality types in order to complement each other, we too can become an even more well-rounded church.
Generally, it seems that people fall into one of two personality types, though some find themselves somewhere in the middle.
1. The traditionalists – they tend to be doers, they learn best with facts and solid data, focus on what is immediate and practical and are content with living life the way it is now because it makes sense to them (perhaps many people who didn’t relate to my previous blog fall into this category). One of their key strengths is that they make sure we don’t compromise core beliefs when times of change do come about.
2. The innovators – they tend to be deep, outside-the-box thinkers, they learn best in creative and inspiring environments, and are constantly looking for ways to do things better by looking at the big picture (perhaps many people who did relate to my previous blog fall into this category). One of their key strengths is that they look for areas of potential change where additional growth can be brought about.
I posted my original blog hoping to give a perspective of those that are maybe more the “innovator” type. I did not post it expecting traditionalists to adopt a completely different way of thinking (nor do I want to), but rather to encourage discussions that will help us find a happy middle ground. It is important to remember that just because we may not personally identify with the concerns or struggles of our brother/sister, does not mean his or her concerns are not of value. As human beings, we each will experience times of difficulty and struggle. Having the help and loving support of others in our church provides us with the encouragement that we all need as Christians. As God works in us to become a more perfect body, we should continually look for ways to grow in grace and knowledge and lift one another up in love and with patience.
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” – Heb 10:24-25.
So in conclusion, in order to be a stronger church we need both the traditionalists and the innovators! Let’s remember we were not created differently to conflict with each other, but to complement one another. God didn’t create us with all the same personalities and gifts for a reason… and it’s the same reason that Jesus had 12 different disciples… because He wanted us to all bring something unique to the table, and for us to learn that we can’t do it all ourselves. We need to trust and lean on one another as we journey toward God’s kingdom. We all make up a part of the body of Christ, and unless those parts can come together and work in unity, we will never reach our fullest potential.
Respectfully share your ideas for bridging the gaps in the comments section, with your friends and family, your congregation, and your ministers. Let’s keep praying, talking, and stoking that spiritual fire! Love to you all, my brothers and sisters.