Thanksgiving for Cross-Generational Community

This past Sunday the young adult class at Forest Hills Baptist Church hosted a huge thanksgiving lunch. It was a huge spread with some amazing food at the house of a young hospitable couple. This lunch made a lasting impression on me, not because of the food, but because of the amazing, beautiful picture of the body of Christ. Although the event was hosted by young adults there was a wonderful diversity within that house. There were college students, young professionals, young married, a baby crawling around, children playing with toys, some empty nesters, and two senior adults. It was a ecclectic group of people who were all having the greatest time eating, talking, and encouraging one another in the Lord. As I looked across the house and saw all the amazing cross-generational conversations, I thought to myself "This is the body of Christ!" What could have brought this diverse group of people together under one roof other than Jesus? One of the great holes in our modern method of doing church is hindering these cross generational relationships to develop. We age segregate everyone into such small categories that there is often very little if any interaction between age groups.

There is great wisdom that can be gained from across the generational gulf. Yet often in most churches there is generational tension between these groups rather than encouraging community. Discipleship happens within community and when we cross the generational gulf. When older men disciple younger men and older women disciple younger women (Titus 2), the church is built up as the beautiful body of Christ.

As I enjoyed that wonderful meal with good friends, for a moment I saw the glorious beauty of the body of Christ. I got just a small visible glimpse of the unity we have in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This unifying Gospel can cross even the widest generational gulf and bring the most unexpected people together.

Diversity in the Unity of the Local Church

The wonderful truth of the church is that there is unity in diversity. If you look around your church on a Sunday morning you might wonder how this diverse group of people came together. Everyone is so different! From their skin color to their personalities to their gifts to the social class to their tax bracket, the body of Christ is diverse. Yet despite all these differences there is unity in the diversity. This ecclectic group of people are one in and through Jesus Christ. What do all these people have in common? That they have been forgiven and redeemed through Jesus. Yet despite the clear diversity we see on Sunday morning, so often we want people to fit into a certain Christian mold. We have this idea of what a good Christian in our church looks like, and we overemphsize certain gifts more than others. A teacher is shown more prestige than the humble servant taking out the garbage after a church funciton. Yet, in our unity the church is diverse. We can't expect everyone to be a clone. Steve Taylor, one of the early pioneers of the Christian music scene, had a song called "I want to be a Clone". It was a funny tounge-n-cheeck type song that highlighted this problem. He sings:

They told me that I'd fall away Unless I followed what they say Who needs the Bible anyway, I want to be a clone Their language, it was new to me But Christianese got through to me Now, I can speak it fluently, I want to be a clone

This is exactly what we do to the diverse group of people in our churches. We want them to fit the traditional idea of what a christian looks like in our culture, complete with a icthus on your car and a chessy Christian t-shirt that says "Abreadcrumb and Fish".

As the New Testament talks about the church, it emphisizes its unity but also its diversity. In Romans 12:1-8 Paul emphasizes both the unity and diversity in the church.

“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Romans 12:3–8, ESV)

You see all though we are one body, there are many parts. Each Christian has been gifted differently and are equipped to serve the body differently. Some are gifted for leadership, some are not. Some are gifted in teaching, some are not. Some are more prone to mercy, some struggle. Some are more prone to serving, some struggle. You see, every Christian is unique and different, called my God to serve the body in a unique way. In the unity we have in Jesus, there is a great diversity in the way we serve on another and work together in unity as a church to advance the Gospel.