Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Segregated in a Whole New Way: A church family from the same generation isn't much of a family.

Segregated in a Whole New Way
A church family from the same generation isn't much of a family.

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I saw this article just now on the Christianity Today website. Was reminded of a few things...

- The joy of seeing Huaqiang and Sarah's baby on Sunday! A new generation has begun...
- My chat with Joyce and Shuyi, and Joyce commenting how different the NUS ministry is now as compared to when she first came in... (that was 4 years ago!)
- A comment by Weizhu last time, about the benefits of
- Shuyi sharing about the YG group's direction and purposes...
- my own memories of an earlier YG group... known as the YP, back in 2000 to 2002...
- About the new batch of poly students joining us
- My pending move to HopeKids CG (praying about it, and shared with my shepherd and CL)... where I'll get to meet people who are well-established in their families and careers
- Misha from Youth service, one of my ministry teammates in the HopeKids creative team, blessing me with a bottle of honey lemon yesterday when she found out that I was very stressed over my work and ministry
- Making friends with brothers and sisters whose ages still begin with a 1.

Looking back at the whole span of community, having grown up in Hope for over a decade (OMG... more than a DECADE?), and now seeing those whom I was with in JC ministry back in 1998 ... (Oh Lord! it was in the PREVIOUS CENTURY!) get married...

It makes me pause and ponder. That's why I think it's very important to build deeper friendships with bros and sisters from other ministries, especially other services, where possible. For example, I'm blessed to have Andrew from the PolyDINS ministry... blessed to have some dear friends from the YG side, and even a few of the Youth people... blessed to have a ministry team that spans different ages and ministries.

I think we lose out on a lot when we choose to 'specialise'. We may be more effective in certain aspects - e.g. more relevant atmosphere, but in the long run, I think we miss out a lot on having potential role models who have gone much further on in life than us. And the older ones can also model life for us - and inspire us to follow in their footsteps to see what great things one can do for God, even when married and serving God.

I think and fear that we're having this increasing tendency to view the moving on to a different life-station as an occasion to be "automatically shipped off" to another service... nothing much to offer here, people, move on, move on... that's a potentially dangerous situation in which we may start viewing the older generation as "not so innovative, nothing much to teach us over here...", which leads to isolationism and perhaps, a subtle pride in being a "self-sufficient" service that has it all together. Frankly, i think there's a serious loss of generational role-modelling due to this approach.

"Self-sufficient." True, every man is to provide for himself... but remember, the New Testament tells us not to be independent, but to be interdependent. Each one should carry his own load, but each one too should help carry one another's burdens.

To that purpose, Weizhu and I initiated a Nerf gun outing last year (31 Oct 09) with some of the HopeKids boys. It was great cross-generational fun - and experiential discipleship in action! We taught the boys the value of integrity and care and consideration for one another. Despite some snickers and comments from some people that playing with Nerf guns is immature and childish, we chose to be all things to all men... or in this case, relevant to the boys. And so, God chose the foolish things of the world that day to shame the wise, the weak things of the world to shame the strong. Hallelujah!

So yes, we may not need to change the structure. There ARE definitely big advantages to being "specialised". But there are some weaknesses. So I think what we can do is to reach across the services to impact the younger ones, and set an example for the younger ones. We can explore pioneering more cross-generational ministries. Nerf guns, cycling, soccer, etc. Or painting, photography and so on. Be intentional to minister to the younger ones... set an example for them! it's exciting!

Titus 2:1-8
1You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. 2Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.
3Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

6Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. 7In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness 8and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.

I guess we may not be ministers or pastors or what... but we can indeed make a positive difference, to rally the younger ones to the battle-front. We just lead the way and model for them to do what needs to be done.

That's why I'm really looking forward to the Ripple Conference this weekend. :) I want to be part of God's team to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

Psalm 48
12 Go, inspect the city of Jerusalem.
Walk around and count the many towers.
13 Take note of the fortified walls,
and tour all the citadels,
that you may describe them
to future generations
14 For that is what God is like.
He is our God forever and ever,
and he will guide us until we die.
What are the "many towers"? Perhaps lives that God has built up, also noble deeds and stature.

Fortified walls - how God has defended and kept us safe, and also strength of character against temptations and faith against persecutions.

Citadels - how God has been our shelter through the darkest times in our church, and saw us through. Also possibly storehouses of food reserves - daily nourishment and wise insights from God's Word.

All these things that God has done for us, let us tell of them to the next generation. For that is what God is like. He is our God forever and ever, and He will guide us even unto our last breaths. Amen!

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