All Generations: Community of God’s People

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February 11, 2018

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    For the first value, I asked my 19-year-old (Gen-Z) daughter, Meredith, for input. The following is what she wrote. Read and prayerfully ponder The Value of Difference.

    Day 1: Value the Difference

    Reflect on where you are at the moment. Acknowledge the lovely diversity surrounding you. Ponder the beauty in the various species of plants and animals. From the vast ocean waves, to a quiet creek,creation is unique. And each individual piece of grandeur compliments another.

    Diversity is beautiful, isn’t it? Imagine if all forests were comprised of only pine trees, seas of only jellyfish, the sky occupied simply by robins. Although each of these express immense splendor, creation couldn’t reach an ounce of the potential it obtains now without the special variations reflected in the rest of God’s handiwork.

    Similarly, imagine a church attended only by Baby Boomers. While this would contain plenty of upsides, a church lacking in variety and unity—of older and younger believers—would struggle to flourish!

    Where would each of us be if we had never been taught to tie our shoes when we were 4 years old? We wouldn’t get very far before throwing a tantrum if our 4-year-old buddy (not yet fluent in the language of shoe tying) was our only help in order to learn to tighten our laces.

    Likewise, how can we overcome setbacks in the church if we lack fellowship with more experienced friends who are master shoe-tiers? It’s vital that the church have all ages, so that each generation can learn from the other.

    Inter-generational churches are a foretaste of the ultimate worship services of heaven. It paints a glorious picture of the harmonious kingdom of God. In Psalm 145:4, David wrote, “One generation shall commend your works to another and shall declare your mighty acts.”

    This image portrays God’s kingdom, worshiping their king amidst different generations, together.

    For the second value, I asked Michelle Perez for her thoughts.Michelle’s a Millennial wife and mother of two small children. She’s also an artist and writer who has inspired many people around Living Word over the last decade.

    In a culture where QUANTITY usually rules, we really need the richness of all generations. And having the full spectrum of generations in the church makes us better. Here is what Michelle wrote, reflecting on The Value of Quality. Enjoy.

    Day 2: The Value of Quality

    If you were to stroll down 73rd Street in Brooklyn and ask about Mr.Anthony, you’d find folks scurrying down their stoops to share fond memories of my Grandpa.

    They’d say the Italian man with the slight frame and huge heart had a wealth of wisdom for life’s big issues. For the smaller issues, he had a stockpile of his very own quality woodcrafts.

    There was a wooden duck to hold your paper towels, a clothespin-beak duck to hold your coupons, and a duck-on-a-stick for your flowerbed. His napkin holders weren’t ducks, though. They were neon yellow smiley faces (well before the emoji craze) because everyone’s better off when there’s a smiling face across the dining table, especially when we’re lonely.

    Grandpa once taught me how to paint wood the right way: against the grain first, and then with the grain.

    Spending quality time with someone who hails from another generation may quite honestly seem to go against the grain at first.

    But if we persist, allowing their fresh perspectives to soak into our hearts, we may find it soon begins to flow naturally, that it feels right, and that (no surprise) it’s really good for the Body of Christ.

    God is our Father. We are brothers and sisters in Christ. And we are called to “mother” and “father” one another in the faith (see1 Thessalonians 2). Read this amazing chapter!

    I asked Georgia Shaffer for input on The Value of Family. Georgia’s an inspirational leader and author from the Baby Boomer generation who has spoken at retreats and conferences, and continues to bless people of several generations with her wisdom. As you read about how she was impacted by a “spiritual mother,” reflect on your own life and growth in the family of God.

    Day 3: The Value of Family

    In 1 Timothy 1:2, Paul refers to Timothy as “my true son in the faith.” I’ve often thought of myself as a spiritual daughter of one woman in particular.

    For the last 20 years, Gayle Roper, older than me in both age and relationship with Christ, has not only partnered with me professionally, but has also been a spiritual mother.

    Here are three ways she has made a positive difference in my life that I try to intentionally pass on to those younger than me.

    1. She has shown me in so many little and big ways how she authentically cares for me. Her genuine love easily spans any generational differences we may have. We both strive to be open-minded and desire to grow.

    2. Her life and character have been strong influences in my walk with the Lord. Her actions speak louder to me than any words of wisdom she might share. There has been more than one day when I think, what would Gayle do? What has Gayle taught me?

    3. And finally, in 1 Timothy 4:14 Paul says to Timothy, “Do not neglect the gift that is in you.” Gayle has not only encouraged me in the daily struggles of living out my faith, but in my gifts of speaking and writing. She, more than anyone, knows how many times I wanted to quit, and she has always encouraged me to keep on.

    Jennifer Aulthouse is a wife, mother, and Gen X-er. She’s passionate about discipleship and helping people with spiritual formation atLiving Word. I asked her to reflect here on The Value of Others. As you read her words, prayerfully consider this value in your own life.

    Day 4: The Value of Others

    God uses the church as a vessel where we confront the sin nature still remaining in us, while rejoicing in the wonderful truth that we have been saved from our sin and from ourselves.

    The church is where we learn how to deny ourselves, to see others as more important, and to see Christ exalted above all else. It is where we learn how to be last.

    Through the church I have learned that even if I may be more technically qualified for a role, it may be God’s plan for someone else to grow in that opportunity – and for me instead to work through my ego issues.

    Through the church I have learned that admitting my failures and receiving forgiveness is vastly more important in understanding my identity than being engaging and talented ever could be.

    Through the church I have learned that the wisdom of the aged and the optimism of youth can converge into a transformative force when it is directed by the Spirit.

    Through the church I have learned that life isn’t about me and my preferences, but instead about offering myself to be used however God wishes to proclaim the gospel and build up the Body of Christ.

    Mark 9:35 says, “Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said,‘Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.’”

    In what areas of your life do you struggle with the idea of being last?

    Finally, let’s explore The Value of Responsibility, which is all about embracing the call to pass the torch of faith to the next generation. A great verse to ponder here is Psalm 71:18.

    For this value, I asked Valerie Sprenkle—one of the most encouraging Baby Boomers I’ve ever met—for her input. Valerie simply EXUDES and OVERFLOWS with this value in her life.

    One Sunday, a couple months ago, one of my sons (a Gen-Z highschooler), wore a sweatshirt with a university logo to church. Valerie used this as a conversation starter and wonderfully engaged with my son in a way that made a big positive impact in his life. He welcomed this interaction and reciprocated joyfully.

    Valerie is passing the torch of faith with passion and a deep sense of responsibility. Read her thoughts (below) on this value and talk to the Lord in prayer about the responsibilities he has entrusted to you.

    Day 5: The Value of Responsibility

    Responsibility for passing the torch to future generations often happens through what I call imprinting.

    I love being intentional and deliberate about the imprint I leave on future generations. With Christ as the center of my life, in my relationships, marriage, and decisions, I want to live in such a way that my interactions with others leave a Christ-shaped imprint. And I want to meet people where they are, helping them move forward in their faith—listening, engaging in heartfelt and loving conversation. I want to give the gift of time, words of affirmation, and prayer.

    What an awesome responsibility we have to assist in identifying God’s presence in people’s lives and the work of the Holy Spirit. I believe that knowing your own spiritual gifting and helping others to identify theirs will help them be used for the Glory of God.

    How can we help future generations flourish and grow in their faith? I believe we are heading in the right direction when we are pouring into others intentionally, lovingly investing in the next generation.

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