FROM ONE GENERATION TO ANOTHER: Why Intergenerational Services are Good for the Local Church (Part 1).

Imagine the scene: Excited parents bringing their children[1] to the newly-famous Rabbi.  News about His authoritative teachings and wondrous works have been widely circulated.  These parents have come to have this Rabbi lay His hands on their children, conveying God’s blessing on their lives both now and in the years to come.[2]  They come with anticipation and hope; yet their hope is dashed when His disciples refuse to allow the children near him.  Scolding the parents, the disciples display the ancient cultural concept that children were insignificant and should not take up the time of important people.[3]  But the Rabbi does something shocking: He rebukes His disciples for their refusal to allow the children in His presence.  Furthermore, He takes time with the children, blessing them and showing earnest concern for them as important beings.

The preceding story, found in Mark 10:13-16, is one of the clearest descriptions of Jesus’ concern for young people.  Rather than bow to cultural norms regarding children as lower class citizens of the nation, Jesus shows genuine concern for them and righteous anger directed at those who wish to prevent them from His presence.  Furthermore, Jesus’ choice of words in His rebuke to His disciples is telling.  In the Greek language, Jesus’ commands of “let the children come to me” and “do not hinder them” is better translated “start allowing the children to come to me” and “stop preventing them from coming to me.”[4]  Jesus’ vocabulary reveals His intention for the disciples to cast away from their minds the culturally-accepted treatment of excluding children in favor of an inclusive attitude that welcomes them in their presence.

Fast-forward nearly 2000 years and a different model can be found in most local churches.  Children and youth are excluded from the congregation at nearly every scheduled assembly.  Relegated to “children’s church”, youth group, or a similar assembly, children and teens are consistently segregated from the rest of the churchgoers.  Such age-segregation evident in local churches today produces serious problems which the churches should strategically solve through scheduling a weekly intergenerational service[5] to allow for parental leadership in the discipleship of their children, include children and teens in the life of the church community, and allow for the church body as a whole to benefit from mutual edification from the various age groups.

In the following series of posts we will discuss the why and how of such services.  We may not completely agree on each issue; however, the dialogue to be had regarding this will be extremely helpful in attempting to answer the question of what exactly is the relationship of the church and family.

Grace and peace,

Rick

[1] The word used here for children, paidia, refers to those ranging from babies to preteens.  John D. Grassmick,“Mark.”, In The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, edited by J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985. Logos Bible Software.

[2]Grassmick, John D. “Mark.” In The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, edited by J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985. Logos Bible Software.

[3] Lemke, Steve W. “The Academic Use of Gospel Harmonies.” In Holman Christian Standard Bible: Harmony of the Gospels. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007. Logos Bible Software.

[4] Grassmick, John D. “Mark.” In The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, edited by J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985. Logos Bible Software.

[5] The specifics of such a service relies heavily on the existing format of the existing church meetings.  For example, this type of service may best occur during the Sunday evening service.  However, for churches that do not meet on Sunday evenings, other options should be considered.

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