There is the amazing buzz that comes out of a gathering of like mind people that propels you to make plans, its much the same way that you feel when the new year ticks over and new year resolutions are made. They make me feel excited and determined to make change happen.
But I didn’t feel that way after attending Generate 19 last week, a gathering of the Intergenerational Community at CTM Melbourne Australia.
It had nothing to do with being drawn to the need for Intergenerational worship. Or the amazing connections that were unfolding right in front of me, or even catching up with people whose company I genuinely enjoy.
No, it was the very real realisation that changing church culture is a slow-moving vehicle and that it was God’s will, not mine that will create change. If it is to be. That our aim is to do God’s will, not the “Intergenerational ideal”(my words)
Now that doesn’t mean give up, it just means that I know that one conference, or one blog, will not create change.
Now I have Chris Barnett (CTM Child and Family etc) to thank for that wonderful peace, his session on Change, reminded me, of why seeking Intergenerational fellowship is important as well as pointing out the realities of change in any organisation. Also, the reminder that it is God, not the changes, that we are worshipping.
Unfortunately, I wished this session had been the concluding address, and not just an elective, given the frustration of the participant next to me, and the comments I overheard as we made our way back to “reality”.
Back in “reality” I quickly found myself explaining the value of having children worshipping at the front of the building. That it results in an increase in connection for the child and that their behaviour both in church and within the family, though anecdotal, indicated an understanding of what they were participating in. The person with whom I was speaking made it very clear that historical decisions to worship at the back of the church meant that children could be kept quiet. The traditional objective was a quiet child, is it any wonder that the children turned away from the value of worship, and have continued to be disengaged from worship! It was clear in this discussion that the aim of participating in worship, had never occurred to this person, even though faith formation in the home was obviously practised and understood.
It is important to make it clear what our objectives and goals are.
Today, I had another “conversation” with someone who found it hard to accept that the church was not the social hub of the community, that other organisations pulled at our young. The aim of church being a social point of contact rather than a God point of contact was implicit and affected the feeling of failure for this community, yet when teased out it appeared that families were still practicing Christian faith formation at home. A better explicit aim of the church as being a reference point to God, rather than a social entity might help this community see the influence they were having rather than the failure they were feeling.
At that moment, I mourned the conclusion of the two days at Generate. I mourned being around like minded people. I mourned the fact that I had spent 2 decades being told to discern my calling. And in discovering it have now made the observation that I should have in the beginning, that bringing people to God is all I wanted to do. And at that moment I remembered, God’s will not mine.
At that moment, 2 days of meeting wonderful people, hearing and speaking with Andrew McDonough, author of the The Lost Sheep Books, https://www.lostsheep.com.auand one of the authors I often refer to in this blog. Incidentally one of only 3 that I know of whose works consistently engage all ages.
Meeting people from, across the ditch (Aussie for New Zealanders), around the country and from many denominations.
All of it reminded me that I was not alone, that I did not hold a viewpoint that was isolating. But that God, not me, was in control, and I didn’t have to push my alternative views on others.
If you would like to know more about Intergenerational worship and community here are some websites with books, or articles to explore
And if you’re in the northern hemisphere http://www.intergenerateconference.comis coming soon.