Opportunity 1 // This Generation Values Kingdom Thinking Rather than Empire Building.
Have you ever been so fearful of something that your first instinct was just to hide from it? Have you ever been so fearful of something that instead of trying to understand it you try to convince everyone else they should be scared of it too? Have you ever wanted to protect something so badly that you would be willing to build a wall around it?
Even though this may remind you of some world leaders that we see on the news, it should also remind us of our churches when they operate from fear of the 'outside world'. We live in a world where culture simply never stays the same. Its always shifting and is as fluid as the Axe body spray Middle Schoolers douse themselves with every day. Things get crazy “out there” so we build our walls high and the password to get in becomes, “Please look exactly like us”. Often instead of engaging culture and building bridges to our community, we hide behind the walls which we have built for our churches.
In a world where division, isolation, and self-preservation run rampant, it is sad to see the Church get caught up in the movement. And the next generation sees it. We as the church have an opportunity to show the world what it means to live in a different Kingdom where those things don’t exist. The Kingdom is about knocking down our walls and building bridges into our communities so people can experience the love of Christ in tangible ways. Here is the most exciting part though! The next generation truly values Kingdom living rather than empire building. The next generation wants to see the Kingdom of God prevail at any cost. Even if that means breaking down denomination wall, letting go of the church empires we have built for ourselves, and being the church in a broken world as uncomfortable as it may be.
Here are a couple of ways you can begin to help your church and the next generation become bridge builders not wall builders.
1. Build Bridges with Churches in your Community – This is a great place to start as you may find others who would like to build bridges. Jjust imagine the resources and the impact you would have if you were not alone! This also sets an example of unity and fulfills the words of Jesus in John 13:35 “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples”.
2. Build Bridges to Existing Community Organizations – There are so many great organizations and non-profits out there that are already doing Kingdom work, they just don’t know it. Instead of trying to replicate what’s already out there and creating a “Church Version 2.0” of something, hop in to what is already happening. You will not only be doing the Kingdom work they are already doing but you’ll also be a light to the people who are organizing it. And lets be honest, this also means you don’t have to go through all the work of creating something yourself from scratch. This could be a local food pantry or even a sports team at your neighbourhood school.
3. Build Bridges between the Bible and Culture – So many people today go into their everyday rhythms without ever realizing that the Bible has relevant things to say about the culture they live in. Adults and youth need to be trained and educated on how to view the culture they live in with a gospel lens. Plan workshops or hands-on learning experiences to help others see how the Bible applies to the real culture they are immersed in.
The thing about walls is that they not only keep stuff from coming in, but they also prevent things from going out. We can't let the walls of the empires (we) built keep us in. We must not let the walls of our empires prevent us from going out into a world that so desperately needs Jesus. Lets join God and the next generation to break down our walls for the sake of the Kingdom.
Looking for resources to help you and the next gen be bridge builders? Check out:
- This Beautiful Mess : Practicing the Presence of the Kingdom of God by Rick Mckinley
- Saturate by Jeff Vanderstelt
- Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne
- Flesh by Hugh Halter
- Greatness in the Kingdom
- Deep Justice in a Broken World by Chap Clark & Kara Powell