I had lunch recently with a friend of mine who is in his twenties. Yes, I do have friends who are in their twenties and I value their opinion, insight and creativity. We were discussing how many of the churches that are on the rise and gaining notoriety today cater their services to people under the age of thirty.
My friend had attended one such church for about three years in the area he used to live. The church was large, popular, with great people and pastors. But he definitely noticed a lack of maturity, depth, and life experience because most of the leaders were young. After moving to the San Diego area, my friend visited several churches that were of the same style, flavor, and age group, before deciding to make Calvary Vista his home church. He told me one of the things that he likes about Calvary Vista is the generational nature of the church. There are saints here in their teens, twenties, thirties, and all the way up into their eighties. He was attracted to the wisdom, maturity and life experience he saw in the older people in our church body.
I was so blessed to hear his perspective on this matter. I truly believe in my heart, that a healthy church is going to be a well-rounded church as it relates to age, flavor and style.
GENERATIONAL CHURCH IS BIBLICAL
I find it interesting that the Apostle John writes these words in his first Epistle.
“I write to you, little children, Because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake. I write to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the wicked one. I write to you, little children, because you have known the Father. I have written to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one.” – 1 John 2:12-14
John wrote to a pretty broad spectrum of saints in this address. He acknowledges little children, young men and fathers. Teens, twenties, and beyond are being addressed.
Paul also mentions the diversity of the ages in his letter to Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:1-2
“Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity.”
Again, in Titus 2:1-8, “But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: 2 that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; 3 the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things—4 that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.
“Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.”
Here, Paul paints a picture of the older men and women pouring into the younger men and women. It is safe to say that the early church was made up of multiple generations of people. My point is that I believe the church today should look the same way.
BLESSED BY SEASONED SAINTS
I turned fifty last year and it is strange to think that my life is more than half way over! At the same time, I am blown away at the thought that I have been walking with Jesus for over thirty-nine years and have been teaching God’s word for over twenty-eight years. Life with Jesus has been good. When I consider the seasoned saints, who call Calvary Vista their home, I am blessed and humbled to be a part of such a rich family of believers; ardent students of God’s word who have years of life experience, walking and serving Jesus.
ENCOURAGED BY THE NEXT GENERATION
At the same time, my heart is blessed and encouraged by the young people I see coming up in the ranks. Young couples, who like my wife and I when we were young, are struggling to make it financially and are trying to figure out marriage and parenting, but who have a passion to honor and serve God with their lives. I am enriched by the twenty- something crowd who are critical thinkers, with questions and who think through their faith. I see a zeal in them that inspires me. Many have a desire to do something big for God.
INSIGHT FROM STUDENTS AT CCBC
I teach yearly at Calvary Chapel Bible College in Murrietta, California. Last semester I taught on the life of David. I came to the portion of scripture in David’s life where he was passing the baton of leadership to his son, Solomon. I used that scene to have a discussion with the students about passing the responsibility of church leadership to the next generation. I shared with them how, should the Lord tarry, my generation would be passing the baton of leadership to them in the next ten years. I asked them what they thought that should look like. Honestly, I was expecting some of them to say, “Just give us the keys to the car and get out of the way.” That was not the response I received at all.
Instead, they were looking for relationship with older believers. “We need you guys to walk with us in ministry. Don’t just do it for us, but do it with us.” They went on to share how they need the older generation of leadership to let them try things and make mistakes, and then for us to be there to talk about why, perhaps, it didn’t work out. These future leaders were like sponges, looking for relationship, insight, accountability, guidance, as well as opportunity.
THE NEED TO VALUE AND RESPECT EACH OTHER
My prayer for the church that I am honored to pastor, as well as the church as a whole, is this: As we move forward in the future, I pray that each generation of believers would value and respect each other.
To the seasoned saints, can I encourage you to appreciate and encourage the next generation? Their hearts are zealous for the Lord, with a passion for Jesus that is contagious! They are innovative and creative. Yes, they might question the system and ask why things are being done the way they are, but that is okay, especially when they want to understand the reason why. The younger generation has a tendency to think “outside the box”, which again, is good because we see in the Word that God often worked “outside the box”. Listen, seasoned saints, we can learn a ton from our younger brothers and sisters. And if, perhaps, they challenge you to break out of your comfort zone, is that really a bad thing? I, for one, am willing to welcome the challenge.
To my younger brothers and sisters, can I exhort you to respect and relish the seasoned saints who have logged some significant years, walking with Jesus? Invite them to coffee and ask questions about life, family, parenting, and ministry. Realize there is a potential wealth of wisdom sitting right next to you or right in front of you at church. You can learn from these wonderful brothers and sisters who have pursued Jesus and served Him longer than you have been alive! Hear their stories and glean from their victories, as well as their defeats. You will find that the world they grew up in and the time frame they were saved in, in many ways, is not that different from the one you are in now.
Change, Church, Old Generation, Young Generation
“One generation shall praise Your works to another,and shall declare Your mighty acts.” – Psalm 145:4