Last week I continued my series on the Key Values of our church. You can read that blog here. To emphasize again what I said last week, Key Values are less about what we are doing and more about how we do it and what the experience is like. The “what” is our Vision to transform religious and irreligious people into Fully Devoted Followers of Christ, living rooted lives of Discipleship, Fellowship, and Mission.” The Key Values are more of the “how,” including family, equipping, authenticity, hope, and excellence. How a church does ministry is just as important as what they do in ministry.
This week, we will be talking about how we value the NEXT GENERATION, including kids, youth, and young adults. Here is how the Key Value is worded: “We have a huge heart for the next generation. We sacrifice for our children and empower our young adults to be spiritual leaders.”
Jesus took the little children in His hands and blessed them (Mark 10:13-16). Children in Christ’s day were loved but looked down upon; this is why the disciples tried to keep them away from the Savior. Yet the Lord held up children as the example of faith for all people: “Anyone who does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter into it.” This, of course, doesn’t mean we remain immature or childish, but we hold onto a childlike trust in the Lord, even when we have been hurt by people or confused at God’s mysterious ways. We value the next generation, and we learn from them as well.
We have a huge heart for the next generation. We invest in them and in the ministries that serve them. We welcome them into our times together, even if that means a crying baby or endless questions from a toddler. We love teenagers through their awkward years and times of insecurity, reminding them they have a supportive church family. We believe in our young adults to lead and make a difference, even as they are finding their place in the world.
We always sacrifice for what is most important to us. Our church sacrifices for the next generation. We do this financially with fund-raisers and scholarship funds, making sure every child can attend retreats and mission trips. We do this by investing more into Kids and Youth Ministries with staffing and volunteers. We sacrifice even in our worship, asking young people for input and working to make sure our worship services, which are inter-generational, are meaningful to our young adults. We are willing to sacrifice what we want to reach the next generation.
Many years ago, I was talking with someone who was frustrated with how potlucks were going. The young adults seemed to eat the most and bring the least. This person wanted to talk to a few people about the responsibility of bringing food to a potluck. I listened to their concern but disagreed with their solution. I asked this person, who had also lamented that their own college-age grandchildren were not church attenders, “Would you be willing to bring extra food if it meant your grandkids would come to church?” The person answered yes and immediately understood my point: we sacrifice for the next generation. Let the children (even the older ones) eat as much as they want in the house of the Lord. We will sacrifice for them, and someday may they be the ones in church sacrificing for the generations yet to come.
Finally, it is important to remember that young people are not the church of the future but the church of today. Our church has membership for people as young as sixteen. We invite young adults to serve in ministry. We want our young adults to lead, using the gifts God has given them to strengthen the Body of Christ. We don’t have one Sunday for youth to lead; we ask them to serve and lead all year long, alongside adults who encourage and invest in them. We listen to our young adults and their ideas, and when God has called them to lead, we follow with wisdom and support. This is the process of empowering, and we love empowering the next generation.
I hope as you read this, whether you are old or young, you are encouraged to be part of Covenant Grove Church and inspired to live out this Key Value in our church family. It makes a difference. I also know many of you who read these words are part of others churches, and I hope these words were a blessing and encouragement for you to value the next generation. We who are old were once young, and those who are young will someday be old. May we be an example to them.