Hey… I’m Byron…
If you read the intro that was posted about me on this blog (here) you will maybe understand why my name is the hopeful cynic. I have been a pastor off and on since I graduated college in 2009. I have a love/hate relationship with the church. The church I grew up in had a problem with separating generations to make things easier. We had the children’s ministry in one part of the church, the youth in another, and the adults in another.
They made sure that we didn’t interact.
We had pastors for every area and very few events that brought the entire church together. I honestly believe that this is where my issues with the church began. We had separate worship and bible study lessons. We also had our own pastor who taught us every week. The youth group went to the main service but it always felt like we were just there to be seen. The church always talked about wanting young people, but never made any changes to make it more welcome to young people. Whenever we were around we got a lot of resentment from the older generation.
It really made me not like church. Why would I want to go somewhere where I always felt like a burden and unwelcome.
I never felt the freedom to be myself.
I dreaded going every week.
This is a major problem we have in the church. We create compartments so everything stays nice and tidy. To be fair I think the intent is pure. I believe we think that if we break everything down by age it will be easier to reach new people and disciple. I understand the intent, but I think our execution is the issue. I like that children can learn about the Bible in ways that are easier for them to understand. I also like that youth groups give adults the opportunity to pour into the lives of teens and let them know someone cares about them, and we can discuss topics relevant to their lives. That is what I have always desired for the ministries I have led. The issue is that it is hard to have those connections beyond that in a normal worship service with a band or choir leading from the front and a pastor speaking from behind a pulpit.
One my favorite people that I have ever attended church with was a more seasoned gentleman who went to the church I grew up in. I think he may be the reason that my relationship with the church is love/hate and not just hate. As you read earlier, my first name is Byron, and that is very important for this story. Every Sunday morning I would see him at church and he would ask me the same question, “Lord Byron, have you written any poetry this week?” The conversation always started the same, and most weeks the answer was no, but he always asked how I was doing, and how my week was. He took a genuine interest in my life and wasn’t just asking to be polite. He actually cared what a punk junior higher thought.
He cared about me.
He will never know the impact he made in my life simply by being present. This is the church we need to promote. The older generations spending time with the younger. Asking simple questions and actually listening to the answers, this is one of the easiest ways that we can show someone we care about them. We need to learn how to communicate and to learn from each other. To be clear I don’t just mean the older generation are the teachers and the younger are the learners. Some of the best lessons I have learned in ministry have come from the teenagers that I was in charge of teaching. This relationship goes both ways.
The church needs to learn how to listen to one another. We have to learn to compromise on the little things like music and what type of events we will promote. We need to show others that we genuinely care. If we as Christians can’t be bothered to communicate and reach out to other Christians, how are we ever going to be able to reach outside of our communities and spread the love of Christ to those we have little to nothing in common with?