Consultation … always learning …

Often we miss occasions to learn. A couple of youth boys sat across the table during an "interview" regarding youth ministry at their church. Each agreed they needed interaction with older youth. When pressed to describe the value of this kind of relationship the young men pointed to what they would learn given the opportunity. I thought to myself, and then mentioned to these two helpful young men, what the senior high youth could learn from the eagerness of these two to bee mentored.

Consultations create the occasion for me as a pastor to hear others describe circumstances that may run parallel to our own. One of the things to come out of today’s interviews centered on the differing narratives in a given local congregation. Some in the congregation live near the church building. Proximity to the facilities makes participation convenient. Others live 20-30 minutes from the building. Concern for distance and regular road work mean a regular consideration about the hour round trip involved in attending a "second" time on a given Sunday. Many choose to stay home. Neither group is more "spiritual" than the other. The way they view  life is vastly different.

Every church contains competing narratives. Generational differences may be described as differing stories. Family context presents the occasion for competing narratives – age of children, children at home or grown children describe different stories for families. Needs for these families are different. Rather than a one size fits all we need to consider ways in which our communities may honor these differing places, stories, locations of our families. Participation should be encouraged around the differing locations families experience.

What do you think?

About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.

7 comments on “Consultation … always learning …

  1. says:

    Nathan and I have talked about this before, but I really feel church’s should be focusing more on what they can do outside their building. Kacie and I are not exactly “poster-children” for this, but intend to improve. Their are very few who need ministering to inside that building, but thousands that need it outside the building. Rather than trying to find more to do “at” the church, perhaps we should find more to do “as” the church.

  2. says:

    You are indeed correct – we need to do more outside the building. My post really related to things already going on so that when a family does consider in what to participate “in” the building we may not want a “one size fits all” approach.

    For example, we have some families with small children who want some family time and look for a way to do that amdist the commitment to serve, teach, etc. On the other end of the spectrum, we have some whose children have left the “nest.” The conflict “may” come when we think everyone should be committing what time “empty nesters” have to give in/out of the building compared to young families. Or, when young families forget these adults need/want extended fellowship now that the children are gone.

    Some of these “empty nesters” would do well to learn recent studies indicate a youth needs “five” adult relationships (beyond the “Hi, how are ya'” variety) beyond their parents in order to experience the kind of community encouraging them to follow Jesus for life. We may need to find ways to connect these adults with youth not only “in” our church, but also “with” those whose parents offer no living faith in Jesus to their children. Some of our young famlies may want to consider these implications and invite adults into their “families” to help their young ones understand the value of extended community, and that not limited to “blood kin.”

    The post did not contend we need to do more “in” the building. Your comment illustrates what I mean by competing narratives. For example, there are some who cannot think of church without thinking about “building.” You and I agree this is a faulty narrative/story. You and I would think of church as beyond the building. Acknowledging these competing stories helps consider ways to bring the stories together via common language and therefore navigate potentially divisive waters.

    “Participation” does not exclusively mean an event/activity going on in the shared building – church building.

    You well note it is one thing to talk about the thousands outside the building but the doing is another matter.

  3. says:

    When the subject of the competing narrative is God then practice and worship will present itself within that narrative. Too often the narrative is used as an excuse for engagement with the community. Commitment is not simple. All the while we must be conscious of practice that caters to particular narratives and neglects others.

  4. says:

    Sorry Todd, it seems I may have missed the point a little by applying what had been on my mind to your post (which was in a different context). However, I think you are correct in that it takes a community to discilple someone, especially a young person. Perhaps my comment was not a total loss however, in that it may be more likely for people to bridge generational gaps and become jointly involved in ministries of service than in classroom or “fellowship hall” type settings where it is all too easy for one to stay in his/her/their comfort group.

  5. says:

    Enjoyed the comment. Thanks.

    No need for apologies. I think you are spot on with your thoughts. I am glad they were provoked even if we may have been coming at it differently.

    One thing I have concluded. One cannot talk about bridging generational gaps nor involvement in ministries of service without intentionality. And, one must honestly consider his/her own context and presuppositions from which assertions are made so as to realistically determine if they derive from what is best for “me” or for “us.” I wonder sometimes if we do not on the one hand assume it it one when it is really the other and on the other hand that we often project our own sense of reality upon those who do not themselves live in that projected reality.

    Good thoughts.

    Hope you are safe on the road.

  6. says:

    I don’t attend your church, so please no one get hacked at Todd for my comment.

    What if those that live close invited those that live far over for Sunday afternoon? It would save on driving, it would build community, it would create more adult relationships for youth, it would allow for individual narratives to be shared, and the list goes on…. I don’t know just a thought.

  7. says:

    A friend recently told me of this going on with a friend of his.

    No one will get mad around here … I hope.

    See you next week.

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