I’m ready to sing a new song.
I don’t have to tell you that, from time to time, our congregation experiences the stresses and strains associated with multiple generations coming together under one roof. And we’re not alone. But today I’m here to tell you that what sometimes feels like our Achilles’ heel is actually our greatest opportunity for experiential grace. How boring would we be if we all saw every issue from the same perspective! We are a family after all. And sometimes families choose to work through issues so that love can prevail. It’s well worth the effort.
And, if you will allow me, I’d like to offer my pastoral perspective in the form of seven proactive ways that we can be stronger together. Stronger! Together! Don’t you like the sound of that? I hope it’s music to your ears.
Never assume that a difference must be a “Biblical” difference.
Regarding the core of who we are – as gospel people – our message never changes. But our methods do change, and must change, and will change. More than once. At any point when we’re at odds with each other, we’re likely to decide that our “opponent’s” position is inherently “wrong,” while failing to recognize that the source of our conflict is not even a matter of right vs. wrong. Said another way, sometimes church conflict feels like theological conflict when it is not.
Everybody’s voice matters, even the one I don’t want to hear.
Simply put, we need each other. The Bible is replete with reminders to us that we should learn from one another. That’s how all of us grow up into spiritual maturity. As a body, we need every part. When every part does its part – that’s when our symphony is the sweetest.
Watch for moments to celebrate somebody else’s preference.
This can feel so unnatural for us at times but think of all the ways in which people have shown love to you simply by loving what you love. Maybe your spouse chose to enjoy a vacation suited more to your interests. Maybe a parent supported you in pursuit of a sport or activity, or even a career, about which they had no knowledge whatsoever. Maybe the Holy Spirit just brought to your mind a time when somebody in your life decided to sacrifice their preference in order to accommodate yours.
Savor the small-but-real victories which happen along the way.
Sanctification takes a lifetime. It’s one tiny step at a time. And sometimes it includes a couple of steps backward. So enjoy the breakthroughs … the sparks of selflessness … the signs of progress. Humility and peace often take time. So take time to notice any momentum in the right direction. Whether you’re old, or young, or in between, if you’ve grown in appreciation for those other folks (whoever they happen to be) – thank God.
Outdo one another in showing real honor toward each other.
We’re working toward something that is bigger than any one of us, and bigger than all of us. The word “harmony” in fact means “the combination of simultaneously sounded musical notes to produce chords having a pleasing effect.” I can’t strike the best sound on my own, and neither can you. But, together, we can produce a masterpiece. So talk each other up! Cheer each other on! Toot each other’s horn! Sing each other’s song!
Never give up working together for a splendid path forward.
What was once the intergenerational divide can be the multigenerational melody. Listen for it. Pray for it. Wait for it. And settle for nothing less.
Get back to the joy of CHRIST, who is our common identity!
As always, our Lord Jesus is our Hope. Our Unifier. Our All.
I’m ready to sing a new song. How ‘bout you? Christine Pohl says it like this: “There is nothing more Spirit-filled, in our polarizing times, than disagreeing with each other while resisting the force to demonize each other.”
And Paul said it like this (Colossians 3:14-17): “… put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
When it comes to our beloved church family, rest assured: we will never see everything the same way. And I’m so, so glad.