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Saturday, November 24, 2012

We've moved!

Just when you thought your were tired of hearing about our physical move, there's more!

The Bella Red has moved to wordpress. I've been attempting to maintain another blog as well as this one and finally decided it was worth the effort to have one hosting site.

I hope that all of you who have followed and subscribed will do the same at the new site! I would certainly miss you if you don't :)

Come check it out at the new Bella Red!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Invisible Church Split - Part II

I previously introduced the idea that the church has a large division between the young and the old. Today I want to explore some of the issues this causes on both a small and large scale. Check out Part I for more background info!

 imagecred: richardwintle via AventuresInWonderland


This is extremely difficult to nail down simply because it begins so subtly. I have a hard time deciding what I think is healthy and what is unhealthy. However, when the young don't honor the old and the old don't teach the young, both groups suffer. 

Untaught young Christians grow into weak old Christians. This causes the local church to flounder in areas of Biblical literacy, evangelism and seeking righteousness. "Old Christians" (wherever the divide may fall in any particular body) who don't experience the process of bringing others along in their walk, begin to lack understanding for those in a less mature stage of their walk. This can lead to criticism of those with struggles inside the church (and possible denial of their own) as well as eventually causing an apathy for the unsaved.

I think this also circles back around. When the elders in the church don't have compassion for the lost in sin, young people begin to polarize. You either have to be a "church person" and separate themselves from the world completely or choose to be in it. I see so many teens and young adults fall into sinful lifestyles partly because they've been told they can't be around "those kinds of people" or "those kinds of activities". They feel shame around Christians because they've been told they're guilty of sin if they break their fathers extra-Biblical commandments. 


Regional areas and countries fall into their own bad habits. Though we most likely all struggle with very similar things, certain cultural aspects have an effect on a divided church. One of the major ones in the US is the death of old congregations and the emergence of churches heavily weighted in numbers of young people. Many of these churches are planted and then dwindle withing a few years because of the lack of elderly wisdom. Because of the importance of social classes, in the UK there are large churches in prominent areas struggling with being superficial and lukewarm. No one wants to man up and cross lines that would make them uncomfortable. 


Internationally, I think there is actually some benefit to this sad problem. While worldwide evangelism and disciple-making see their fair share of neglect, they also get the unhealthy church's "rejects".

For example, my pastor's wife was telling me a tragic story of a missionary she knows losing his wife. As she described him she noted that he's someone people describe as "over the top" (for instance taking his wife and children to spread the gospel in the islamic middle east) but that she felt like he embodied what Jesus described for all believers to look like. 

Similarly, we had a leader who tried to explain to us that since we were so bent on making disciples, we might want to go overseas. He wasn't sure we really fit around here.

While churches all over sit in their abundance and barely acknowledge people and places who need their prayers, efforts and resources, at least they send them the best disciple makers they have (unfortunately, to it's own detriment).

What kind of issues to you find affecting your local/regional church? What other consequences do you see that I didn't hit here?

Comment/Email your answer!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Invisible Church Split - Part I

There is crack, a crevice almost, through many local church bodies. It splits a single congregation into two, without even the cost of a new building. While not terribly financially wasteful in most cases, it is a fissure that is always very costly.

 imagecred: richardwintle via AventuresInWonderland

The division of which I speak of is in age: the old from the young/the young from the old. We're going to take this slow and really unpack the issue. My goal is to deal with how I personally see it manifested globally and locally. (I would love to hear your personal observations as well!) I'd then like to look at the consequences on the mission of the gospel both worldwide and regionally. And thirdly, we'll go over some things each of us can do to make a difference where we are. (Hopefully I can keep myself from proposing giant generalizations that are unrealistic such as "if we'd all at it!") 

What Division

I recently discussed this issue with a Spiritual leader of mine. When I hinted at the line down the middle of the room in one particular situation she looked at me with such a cluelessness that I laughed! She hadn't noticed it until I pointed it out, partly because she isn't part of the problem so she couldn't imagine young and old Christians treating each other as if they're aliens to be held at a safe distance!

In The Local Church

I'm sure there are many ways in which it appears in individual bodies, but here are things that I've observed in my own and other congregations. This is one issue on which I'd LOVE to receive e-mails/comments from you describing what you see.

  • Lack of discipleship among believers of different generations: I know you've heard from me before on this issue, but it's the first one that comes to mind. If we weren't so afraid of each other (of judgement and approval, of vulnerability, of what we might have to say to each other...) or making our minds up without giving the other a chance, we could all learn a ton!(Titus 2:1-8)
  • Lack of fellowship (inter-generational relationships): Plain and simple: we're not friends. This is not a rule, but for the most part I don't see a lot of 40+ or 50+ couples chillin' with the newlyweds, college age and high school students. Within the church, we are all equal in this: we we're outside, condemned to eternal seperation from our Creator and we have all been brought near through the Redeeming blood of Christ. Something about "those young'ns" and "those old fogies" makes us act as if we are different kinds of Christians. (Prov 27:9, Rom 3:21-25)
  • Literal church splits and/or migrations: This is not an ingenious epiphany. Many have noted the increase in young people planting their own churches and leaving the grey-haired behind in a congregation with no long-term future. Young people reject the wisdom of those who've been around the block and so many experienced believers stand on non-Biblical convictions and "the way things are". Eventually someone says, "Fine, we'll just go do it our way."(Prov 16:31; 20:29)
  • The physical line: Show up to your local worship service, maybe even Bible study or small group and the chances are you find this. It may appear as a line down the middle of the room, certain areas or rows that have an unspoken weekly reservation or maybe just large generationally discriminant pockets/groups. I have to be very open and honest with this one. This doesn't happen quite so much in our worship services, although everyone has "their spot" and in a rural community I think they pretty much get passed down in the will! However, I do attend a multi-generational Bible study where there has been some finger-pointing at "you young people" based on purely extra-Biblical convictions. One time I happened to sit next to another young mother who sensed my frustration simply because my body stiffened at the conversation going on around us. I (working on being slow to speak) knew I couldn't address the issue right then without overreacting in passion. She jumped in and said exactly what I wished I could have without blowing a fuse. I really appreciated her support and so I naturally migrated to the seat next to her around the table weekly. Slowly, everyone under 40 migrated to that side of the circle leaving everyone else to their own side. It was never intentional but I knew exactly what had happened.
  • Failing programs: Without the wisdom of plenty of mature Christians of all ages AND the attendance of Christians (and unsaved in some cases) who have plenty to learn, also of all ages: well intended programs, classes and services die. You probably already know how I feel about cookie-cutter programs, but when people serve in the manner their community needs, people come to know the Lord and grow to be more like Him. This requires breaking generational gaps to be completely effective. Otherwise, we are severely limiting the amount of discipleship that could be happening.

These are just a few of the things that came to my mind as I write. Like I said, I'm sure there are more (maybe even obvious ones that I'm missing like my dear friends missed our physical line in Bible study).

Very soon we'll discuss the effects and some possible solutions. In the mean time, I look forward to hearing from you on what you see!

Do you notice any age separation in the church? If so, please share!