Matt and I have touched on this topic recently and have the same desire. We see so much lack of real connection and love in the community of brothers and sisters around us. We see hunger for what you speak on but no buffet for them to eat from. I hope to spread out a table and dine from one, with family, with the richest of goods that God has to give. Thanks for writing this. It has stirred it up more in me.
How Do You Give A Spiritual Inheritance to Those You Love?
Church is important to me, but I struggle with it. I look at Scripture and I look at the Sunday morning social club that church has become, and the gap concerns me.
Yet, it is part of the spiritual inheritance I want to give my kids and those I mentor. When I’m gone from the earth, I want them to not just be a part of a church, but to love it and be fed by it.
And so, as a Baby Boomer with something I value that I want to bequeath, I’m faced with a fundamental problem. It’s a problem that I share with a lot of my peers.
The problem is that my kids don’t want what I want to give them.
This past week I asked a few of the young leaders in our ministry what they think of the way we do church in America.
“We don’t like it,” one answered. He elaborated why and it was sad. Perhaps he speaks for his generation. If not, the generation is at least speaking with its feet as they are leaving the church of their parents. They are leaving by the millions.
As parents, we are failing to give them something that we deeply value. And what’s especially sad is that it comes down to an issue of style, not substance. If we look at what Scripture says and what we want, I’m betting we and our kids would actually agree.
For example, how do you think most young people would answer these questions?
1. Do they want to belong to a group of people who encourage them? Absolutely.
2. Do they want to be built up to do a better job of loving? Yes, they do.
3. Do they want to be equipped to live a meaningful life filled with purpose and good works? Of course!
If you read the letter to the Hebrews, you’ll see that the writer encourages his readers to continue meeting together (Heb. 10:24-25). In other words, to do church. And he gave three outcomes that we should expect when we are doing church:
being built up to love, and
being built up for purpose
Yet, how many of us experience church that way? When we say “church”, they hear “the building with pews in it.” It’s a church with walls. But God’s idea was different – a church without walls. The Bible makes it clear: “The Most High does not live in houses made by human hands.” (Acts 7:48)
The result is that our children are leaving what is to them, obviously a sham. They are gifted with a keen nose for authenticity. They go to college, struggle with faith, and not seeing alternatives, seek other more life-giving ways to spend their Sunday mornings.
So, I have this dream. It’s my dream to help them rediscover what God intended when he told us that we need to regularly meet together. The Greek word is “ecclesia” and we translate it church.
Church was intended to be life-giving, but young people don’t experience it that way. That leaves we Baby Boomers with a choice:
we can either do some real soul-searching and ask what’s wrong and help fix it,
or we can stick our head in the sand and not have any plan for transferring our spiritual inheritance.
I propose that we do the former. We Boomers need to rediscover the original intent behind the passage in Hebrews that encourages us to meet together.
It’s a dream that Andrew Shearman shares with me. He often talks about deep, covenantal relationships. Life-giving friends who help you become the best version of yourself. Andrew dreams of large numbers of young leaders helping their peers to discover how to live a life in community with the people who love you like that.
Sixteen years ago on a back stretch of Alabama road I asked Andrew a question that exploded in his soul and called him out of obscurity.
“Have you done it yet?”
I didn’t know it at the time, but as a young man, Andrew had asked God for 100,000 trained leaders who would show others what deep relationship and a life-giving community look like.
But the problem was the gap between his dream and his reality. He felt his request was so holy and audacious that he’d only ever told his wife, Mo, about it.
Andrew had buried his dream. It seemed too impossible.
But he knew the answer to my question was, “No.”
I pressed him, “Tell me about your dream.”
It took him a while, but finally I pulled it out of him. He told me all about it. And he told me how preposterous and inadequate he felt to make a something like that happen.
When he finished, I said, “I’m going to help you get your dream. I’m going to help raise up those 100,000 leaders.”
Both of us were speaking about something so outrageously impossible that we wrestled within ourselves to even talk about it. But having expressed it, I know that neither of us can die happy if we don’t give the dream our best shot.
Fighting for inheritance
Part of my growing up as a father is learning how to be a good son. What better gift to give a spiritual father than to help him see his dream live so that one day he can die happy?
Our dreams are a central part of the spiritual inheritance that we leave our sons and daughters. But as fathers, we need to have a plan for how we’re going to give them what we value most.
I know that to give my sons and daughters (and their friends) a version of church that they will cherish and fight for, I’ve got to live it myself. It has to be real for me and real for those I help lead.
I’ve got to fight for the inheritance if I’m ever to give the inheritance.
So here’s my plan: I’m a part of a church plant in Gainesville, Georgia. We’re trying to put shoe leather on the dream. And I’m asking every World Race squad to become a church – a body of Christ that looks like a church without walls. A community that encourages them and builds them up for love and good works.
And I’m asking them to make disciples who make disciples who then meet together to encourage one another – in the process rediscovering what God had in mind when he asked us to meet regularly.
The status quo is unacceptable. It won’t feed my grandchildren. It has to change. I’m fighting for the inheritance. Every week I’m experiencing what I want to give.
This next week we’re convening a conference called the Awakening. Andrew and I and a few others are going to share our hearts about what it has cost us to fight for inheritance. You’re all invited.
What spiritual inheritance do you want to give your children and grandchildren? What parts of your faith really make a difference in your life? Take some time to think about your answer. And then ask yourself: How am I going to pass that on to them? How will I fight for it?
If you want to join us next week, more info here.
Do it, Connie!
“A Church with no walls!” Well said, and I know this generation will express exactly how it will look in the future! Thanks for being a great example and willing to lay your own agenda down so that they can become great. Proud of you Mr. Barnes and with you!!
This is great, Seth…as an “old lady” (builder) I have had great concern for the generations following mine. Before my Dad passed away and knew he was terminally ill, he would complete his daily walk and as he entered the doorway, I would see a burdened man and would ask, “Dad, what is wrong, are you OK? His answer, “What kind of life are we leaving our children and grandchildren?” I thought I understood but did not fully grasp the burden …now, I do….I see a generation of young people who do not seem to understand what “covenant relationships” (committment) are all about…Do we blame them? The first example given for our benefit is the picture of Christ (the groom) with his Bride (the church). We now have two generations of professing God’s people who have left their “commitments” and then attach to another. They have not seen that modeled for them…Then there is the church body where my generation attended church 4 times on a Sunday and left the afternoon to rest, nap or the children doing something with each other…it truly was a day “set apart” On the way home from “church” we would discuss the sermon or Sunday School lesson so that the lessons “listened to” are given an opportunity to “application. ” During the week There was evening supper together around the table with a short devotional following…a natural time of “group therapy” where the disheartened were encouraged , the joys of the others celebrated …no cell phones, ipads, computer games to disrupt this guarded “family time”. We live in a day of “sound bites”. How often do people read a whole article but limit themselves to a sound bite or heading of an article. I stopped getting our local newspaper as often the headline did not reflect the article as a whole. My conclusion was: “We have become lazy and that is the “pattern” we are setting for subsequent generations. Anything worthwhile in life requires “committment”. In our “fear” of losing our children , we have failed them…God instituted government, the church and the family. He has not left us withouut instructions…I find myself with a heart of desiring to hear from God when I take off on a Sunday morning and he never disappoints. My pastor does not have to use gimmicks to get my attention (which requires me to turn up hearing aids so that I might not miss what God has for me as I confront a new week with new pressures of old age and life experiences) We have not challenged, we have catered and young people of “passion” need to be challenged…the wisdom of age coupled with the passion of youth can set the world on fire again. God has also made us to “need” structure and boundaries. It seems, to me, that there is little order in peoples lives today…If you look at creation, the food chain, how one part of God’s wonderful creation is dependent upon another working in order, I am amazed…God has given us an example of this and has made “man”, the pinnacle of his Creation, with a need for order. He also made us with a need for “community” (varying species of personalities that become “iron sharpeneing iron”. I am finding at my age and having lived my three score and ten plus (84), that I am running out of time to share these challenges with the youth in my own family…I am willing to be rejected by those I love to be faithful to my God who gave me physicial as well as spiritual life. Seth, continue to challenge, listen to the elders as well as the youth…May I, may you, continue to be faithful to the call of God upon our lives and never let the “fear of men’s faces” deter us from that call….(Sorry, for writing such a long post…but these things are deeply held convictions that must be shared if I am to be faithful)
Joyce, you have been an inspiration to so many. You have lived a life worthy of the call. God has used you to love on his kids. Karen and I and our family are richer for the years and years that you have prayed for us and held our arms up.
You have been unshaken even though the enemy has thrown his worst at you. Your family walks with God and loves him deeply. Your legacy is great and your inheritance secure.
One of the unfortunate legacies of emerging missions movements like Campus Crusade For Christ (now CRU) is that the marketing gambits invariably were driven my metrics with big numbers. “One Billion By 2,000”, etc. Consumers of the messages were often unsure where the targets originated and if they were met. Donors were caught up in the “gospel sharing testosterone” but then came to see that many denominations, parachurch organizations and personalities had similar goals, new vistas and Himalayan summits in their strategic plan. An iconic Dutch artist one penned “Less is more” and a whole school of design philosophies emerged. These days I’m often back at square one. Unless God is the builder we are wasting our time to try. (my translation of the verse) One of the many things I love about you Seth is that the DNA of “incubating” new approaches is threaded throughout the organization and its affiliates. The inherent characteristic of the gospel is risk with certainty. God’s promise is that His word is “alive and active” and will “never return void.” Another speaker, band, conference or event can be a megaphone. And that is good. Real transformation as you know happens when the unshakable truth of words from the heart of the Planet Maker lodge in hungry hearts. That’s where the real fires are ignited. Proud of your path amigo. Butch
Thanks, Butch. I often feel angst, so I appreciate your encouragement.
It comes down to what it says in Revelation…They overcame him (the enemy/devil/thief) by: 1. The BLOOD of the Lamb, 2. The word of their testimony and 3. (Usually left out) and they loved not their lives unto death. This is how it’s done. True death and surrender of our lives for HIS. HIS will, HIS way, HIS truth and HIS life.
I’m in the process of pressing through to my own God-given dream. It’s a literal call to the church to come up higher. I ran from the tough parts of this call but I’m fighting the good fight pressing past mediocre, status quo, complacency, convenience, contentment, SAFE, and I made up my mind that I’m going to be part of the solution. I’m fighting for our kids and their future. We need to stop playing church and BE the church….the LIVING EPISTLES being read by others. It’s already cost me. There WILL BE a cost. We are NOT our own but we were bought with a price….the precious blood of Jesus Christ. This burden in my heart from God is an urgent plea. We need to get busy with Kingdom work and Kingdom goals….ASAP. Love your heart for God. God bless!
The passion behind your words have fanned even more the fire raging in my soul for the church back home and abroad. More particularly the dream. I have hidden a similar dream God has give me. It seems so ridiculously beyond what any one man can achieve, but God is a faithful pursuer and won’t let me give up on this! All this to say thank you. Thank you for your continued obedience in sharing what the lord has given you. Our squad won’t be home in time for the awakening but I wish I could hear yours and Andrews session.
Thanks, Ryan. You are an encouragement!