Intro: This is an online magazine style post on the SimplePastor blog site - designed to support those who'd like to make church better. I hope you find good ideas, inspiration, warnings of common pitfalls. I'm also producing this with the smaller to medium size church in mind - perhaps a congregation of around a hundred, who'd like to be a congregation of around 3-500. But many of these principles can support any shape or size of ministry.
One: Mickey Mouse Ministry.
Over the last century, as a result of children staying in school longer, church has really put a lot into youth, and children's ministry. This has been wonderful at keeping the kids at church while they are still in school, but has actually hurt retention post school. This is because so many of our students graduation from church as they graduate from school. So we have to somehow stop this "Micky Mouse" way of doing church - that is, with the adults doing their thing in the "main" church, while kids and youth huddle off in a side room or a basement.
For more info on how to keep kids past youth as they transition into adult life, check out Sticky Faith. It's a site full of research and ideas.
So, an on fire church, with an eye on the future (Study the parable of the virgins in Matthew 25 to see how important it is to keep an eye on the future as we do ministry) will practice we call Generational church. Where we find ways to worship together, serve together while all learning from each other.
Two: Pros and Cons of Generational Church.
TIP: When we are talking about Generational Church, we are not talking about making the kids eat what the grown ups eat. We are talking about church being all things ... to all people. WARNING: Don't try without a lot of prayer!
Three: Counter Culture
The world is dividing up into smaller and smaller pieces. The old USSR is now 15 countries. We reference the "former Yugoslavia". We used to all watch pretty much the same thing at night on tv - now if you can't find what you exactly want on 100's of cable channels, you can head on over to youtube. Where we once had the in fashion we all had to wear some version of, we've now got hipster, emu, nerd, foreign, preppy, punk, rocker and casual chic, which I'm told mean casual but cute.
Church is not immune to this. Kids church. Bikers church. Coffee church. Experiential church. Organ church. Praise Band church. We've got a menu to choose from.
With all this catering to different tastes, the idea of one God is under attack! For there is a (even in the Christian church) God for the gay, the paranoid, the wealthy, the bold or the timid. Even in our churches in a side room we've a God for the young, the restless, the questioning. Then head on over to the Sanctuary and everyone seems to be worshipping a completely different God. And it's all dependent on us.
Looking at the world we live in you can see why we split up so much as Christians, denominations and individual congregations. But make no mistake, there is One God. And we all benefit from coming together to worship Him, support each other, and seek truth and reality of who God is.
A good church will take this seriously, and not conform huddling in our small like minded groups. Face it - the world is doing far better than the church at this in most cases anyway. So, on your knees, seeking direction from God himself, imagine church where we all seek and worship together.
My first job out of college was at the General Conference office - the headquarters of my denomination. I thought this was a pretty good way to start, and perhaps it was. but I learned very quickly that the main thing for leaders working in this building was not getting the world ready for Jesus to return, or introducing Jesus to people who didn't know Him etc... the main thing was unity. Unity - as in keeping people together in the same system.
And here I am talking about multi generational church - you could say I learned well.
But of course the main mission of your church is not multi generational - this is merely a tool, a way of effectively going about your main goal. Which I hope is something along the lines of being Jesus in the world - an extension of Jesus' own ministry while He was here.
And it is going to be vital that you keep this goal in front of everyone, if you want everyone to worship and serve together. Because it will be hard to do at times. And is in fact pointless if all you manage to do is get people together long enough to survive before they go back to their own tv shows, internet browsing and shopping at places that cater to their own age group and tastes.
So never let any good idea interfere with your purpose.