By Matt Dawson
What does a multi-generational church look like?
As for you, Titus, promote the kind of living that reflects wholesome teaching. Teach the older men to exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely. They must have sound faith and be filled with love and patience. Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God. In the same way, encourage the young men to live wisely. And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Titus 2:1-7
The church I ministered to last weekend for LoveLife Charlotte was the a-typical picture of a multi-generation church. It was a small country church in Marshville, NC. They had a good amount of retired and elderly adults, several parents in their 30 s & 40s and their kids, and some young singles & young families with babies! This is what I was told a MULTI-GENERATIONAL CHURCH LOOKED LIKE.
After watching the message Don preached last weekend, I had an epiphany! Towards the end of his message he showed us that much of how we see spiritual growth matches what we see in physical growth. From infancy to adolescence, teenage years into adult years. This is the process of maturity. That’s when it became clear for me!
Journey is a multi-generational church in our spiritual growth!
We have many folks in our church (all different ages) that are living in spiritual maturity. This doesn’t mean they’ve “arrived”, but they are strong in their faith, solid in their theological convictions, and regularly apply God’s Word through spiritual disciplines. We have many folks (all different ages) in the awkward adolescent & teen years in their spiritual walk. They know enough to be dangerous at times, but they are FILLED with amazing energy and potential when focused in the right direction. We also have many babies (all different ages) that are BRAND NEW in their walk with Jesus.
HOW AWESOME IS THAT!
This epiphany has filled me with incredible joy and patience for our wonderful church body! Why? Because we are looking more and more like the church Paul describes in Titus 2! Maybe at one time, age and spiritual maturity went hand in hand in Titus’s time. However, in our current culture – spiritual maturity shows up in all different ages different. This means the path of growth for a 50 year old that is still new to faith LOOKS DIFFERENT than the 28 year old who’s been a devoted follower of Jesus since their elementary age.
The SIGN OF A HEALTHY CHURCH is ALL AGES & STAGES.
Many fundamental believers want to rush to the conclusion that a HEALTHY CHURCH is a church full of MATURE BELIEVERS. I don’t think that’s correct – not from what I see in Titus 2. We need ALL forms of growth to be happening in a healthy church. Do we need MATURE BELIEVERS? YES! However, we also need babies – NEW BELIEVERS that don’t know anything yet! We also need everything in between. We need the innocence of adolescent believers as they learn healthy disciplines…we need the passion and energy of spiritual teenagers that do incredible things for God (even as they struggle, rebel, and push the limits to make their faith personal).
Journey is a Healthy Church AS LONG AS WE CONTINUE GROWING!
It’s the reason we did this message series. Everyone experiences areas of arrested development along the journey. It’s okay…but it’s NOT OKAY TO STAY THERE! Our desire as a church is to see EVERYONE continue to GROW in their own faith journey and be ALL IN for the table God has prepared for them.
This weekend, I’ll close the series with the dangers of “playing it safe” with what God has entrusted to us when we experience arrested development! I hope to see you at Journey this weekend!
By Don Gentry
On Sunday I had the opportunity to preach a difficult sermon. It wasn’t difficult to say, but difficult because I love our church and some of what I shared was hard to hear. As I said on Sunday, growing up is hard to do.
As a reminder, I had eight spiritual disciplines that I addressed that are necessary to help us grow and mature. If you weren’t there the disciplines were Prayer, Bible reading, Fasting, Solitude, Practicing a Sabbath, Giving, Worship, and Sharing your faith. As Matt shared two weeks ago most of us live in some form of arrested development in our spiritual walk. As you read this list there is a great chance that you may live in Arrested Development in one of these disciplines. (If you don’t know what I mean by arrested development then click here to listen to Matts sermon.)
The very awesome nature of the God we serve does not condemn us in our walk, but He challenges us to experience all that He has for us, as He has created us for greater things than we can possibly think or imagine. Because of His great desires for us, if you find yourself not quite as mature as you would like or as mature as you think you could be, then let me challenge you to a three-step process.
1. Don’t get discouraged. Maturity is a marathon not a sprint. None of us have arrived. We all get to spur one another on to better things.
2. Do an honest evaluation. Look at the list of the eight disciplines and use a scoring matrix of 1-10. 1 being the devil and 10 being Jesus. (That is a little bit of Donnie humor.) Then decide if you like where you score yourself. Don’t compare yourself to any other human. This is between you and God. The true measure of an athlete is not what he/she can do in comparison to others, but only what he/she can do in comparison to their own best self. This is true in athleticism and spiritual disciplines.
3. Make a plan. Start with a baby step. If you find yourself at a 1 don’t determine to be a 10 by the end of the month. Take a step toward a 2 then a 3. Be patient with yourself. A baby doesn’t skip childhood to become a mature adult. There is a necessity for each step in the process of life that we go through as humans. The same is true spiritually. There is incredible value in growing up in the maturity of our faith. If you struggle with making a realistic plan. Seek outside assistance, a loved one, a good Christian friend, or ask one of us on staff we would love to help.
Once you take these three simple steps ask the Holy Spirit to help you. The scriptures say the flesh is willing but the spirit is weak. You need the help of the Holy Spirit to keep you committed. Maturing spiritually is impossible without the Holy Spirit, Jesus sent His Spirit to help us in our walk because He knew we would need help after He left this earth. You have access to God 24/7 with the Holy Spirit. Seek His assistance as you develop in your faith.
Love you all and hope you have an awesome week!
By Don Gentry
Are You a Lopsided Gym Rat?
We are in the middle of talking about spiritual maturity in our current sermon series. One thing that I have found fascinating is that many Christians approach spiritual maturity in a why they would never approach any other area of life.
Can you imagine going to the gym and only doing exercises to build up your biceps because you want big arms. I have seen guys in the gym that forgot their back, tris, lats, shoulders, legs, and abs, and they look really weird. But I have never seen anyone in the gym only focus on one muscle.
Yet, when it comes to spiritual maturity, some of us go the spiritual discipline gym and literally focus on our biceps, and then we wonder why our relationship with God is so unfulfilling, frustrating, empty, nonexistent, or just plain weird.
I hope you come to church on Sunday so you can keep from looking like a lopsided gym rat! Seriously, join us on Sunday so you can see what you can implement into your life to experience spiritual maturity! As Matt said on Sunday, God has invited you to the big person table. It is full of amazingness, but there is only one way to experience all that God has for you!
I can’t wait to see you Sunday!
By Matt Dawson
“I have a lot more to say about this, but it is hard to get it across to you since you’ve picked up this bad habit of not listening. By this time you ought to be teachers yourselves, yet here I find you need someone to sit down with you and go over the basics on God again, starting from square one—baby’s milk, when you should have been on solid food long ago! Milk is for beginners, inexperienced in God’s ways; solid food is for the mature, who have some practice in telling right from wrong.
So come on, let’s leave the preschool finger painting exercises on Christ and get on with the grand work of art. Grow up in Christ.” Hebrews 5:11-14, 6:1 (MSG)
To be honest, these verses feel awfully CONDEMNING! Especially if there are areas in my life that I feel stuck in my growth and relationship with God.
However, after a great deal of study on several passages that use similar language – I’m convinced that God is not calling us OUT but calling us UP!
There is a GRAND WORK of art that is available to those who continue growing in their faith. We do not have to settle for OR feel stuck in prolonged infancy. God has more for us! God has so much more in store for His children then we are taking advantage of because we’re stuck at the KID’S TABLE!
I hope you’ll join us this weekend as we start a new series entitled “Don’t Be a Baby!” We will discover WHY the scriptures use this language when describing what’s at stake when we remain spiritual babies and WHY God has so much more prepared for us and our future! It’s time to GROW UP IN CHRIST!
By Matt Dawson
If you’ve had the opportunity to be with us for the past 2 weekend, we took a look at how we can better understand and reach the Next Generation (or today’s church).
Don mentioned a very famous phrase spoken in “Christianese” that is centered around Matthew 18:3. For those who grew up in church, you’ve heard it a thousand times. “Child Like Faith.”
However, as we approach this new series entitled “Don’t Be a Baby” it’s important to discuss the differences in CHILDLIKE Faith and CHILDISH Faith. They sound ALIKE, but are very different in actual definition. As we prepare for this new series, let’s talk about these 2 faiths.
The best way to describe a childish faith is one that based on conditional trust and a stubborn heart. It’s very us-centered, outcome oriented, and self-serving. One with childish faith will say “I must have answers in order to trust You” and “I must get MY WAY in order to follow You.”
The primary issue with a childish is that it simply cannot withstand the grown-up problems we face every day. Because it’s rooted in self and fueled by desired outcomes, we simply cannot GROW with a childish faith. We’re STUCK.
The best way to describe Childlike faith is one that is based on complete trust and quick repentance. It’s God-centered, purpose driven, and focused on the Kingdom. One with childlike faith will say “I TRUST you even without all the answers” and “I’ll follow you even though I may not like the outcome.”
The primary benefit for Childlike faith is that God is now the center of everything. No matter how complicated and complex our lives become, we trust that God is always at work and He can be trusted to meet every need.
MIX and MATCH
People often experience both childish and Childlike faith as they are growing in their relationship with Christ. It plays out in many ways throughout our lives.
- Susan exercises childlike faith to help her overcome her natural anxiety, BUT is STUCK in childish faith when it comes to tithing and financial stewardship. She’s experiencing some growth in one area, but struggling in the other.
- Bill exercises Childlike faith in his career, trusting God to take care of his future, BUT is STUCK in childish faith when it comes to his relationships and sexual temptations. He feels he’s growing in one area of his faith, but doubting God in the other.
As we dive into this new series “Don’t Be a Baby”, I want you to consider the areas of your life where you exercise a Childlike Faith and the areas where you’re stuck in a Childish Faith.
I hope to see you Sunday!