James 1:19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,
I tried this out today. I like to try to practice what I preach, otherwise, I would be a pretty lame pastor. This is what I did:
- I got permission from parents…
- I asked a handful of kids two questions while I videoed. The first was simply, “What is the Church?” and the second was, “Who is Jesus?”
- I edited the video and put some epic music behind it…
- I made it part of my sermon.
I have been preaching a series called “What If Jesus Really Meant What He said?” It has mostly focused on the Sermon on the Mount. At the end of Matthew 7, Jesus talks about trees bearing good fruit and houses being built on sure foundations. I have often wondered how to quantify that. How can you really tell if you are producing fruit or building on the right foundation?
Really, I wanted to know if we were actually teaching the next generation the Jesus we read of in the Bible or simply our opinion of who Jesus is. I think there is a difference. I think we have a tendency to focus on the Jesus that’s easy to stomach, the nice Jesus who says stuff about love and prayer. I think we also get distracted by the things of this world and somehow fool ourselves into thinking our opinion matters more than someone else’s because we believe in Jesus (read more about that here). We teach the parts of Jesus we like and steer clear of the aspects of Jesus we don’t. We also do it without realizing it…
Hence getting feedback from kids.
Kids are the ultimate truth speakers. They will let you know how it really is. So I asked them because I wanted to know how we were doing. Were we holding true to the message we profess? Did we need to work on something? Are our kids’ voices being heard? Are their needs being addressed?
It’s easy to overlook the young, the inexperienced, the immature. In fact, it’s hard work to engage with them and to minister to them. I was a youth pastor for years and I am still tired, but I fondly reflect back on the time I spent with teenagers. They challenged me, helped me grow and wouldn’t let me off the hook when it came to giving them surface answers to hard questions. They were also the quickest to share what they thought about how the church was doing, good or bad. That was important to me.
If a teenager could sit through my sermon I considered that a win.
If a teenager would engage in worship based on the songs I picked for Sunday morning church, I considered that a win.
If a young person knew I would listen, they would speak and trust would be gained. That would be a win.
If kids could easily see that following Jesus meant loving people the way you wanted to be loved, then the church was doing its job.
This blog is named for a book which engages the concept of the millennial. Currently, millennials are vilified, looked down on, criticized and ignored. As a millennial, this makes me sad to listen to this discussion happen so often. It seems to me that the longer you go to church, the less you remember what it was like to first walk through the doors of one. At times, it also means you are more likely to speak your mind and less likely to sit quietly while someone younger than you speak up. This is where things like compartmentalized ministry come from (read more on that here).
Millennials today are the teenagers of the church. They will tell it like it is. In general, they are outside looking in, but that perspective is invaluable to the church (Read – Millennials don’t go to church). They are the ones that can inform the church and those within of the type of fruit they bare. They are the ones who can give feedback as to whether or not they see Jesus in the day-to-day of His follower’s lives. They are also known for being the generation who is as critical of the church as they are receptive to the teachings of Jesus.
That for me shouldn’t be possible. We shouldn’t have a generation of people who are interested in Jesus but not in His church. Perhaps we could fix that problem if we were slower to speak and quicker to listen. Let’s give it a try.
Until next time…