The words in this title are not mine; they are the Apostle Paul’s.
These words come in the middle of what I can only call a full-fledged rant. Paul, having dealt with some unfair treatment and feeling very frustrated about it, basically just goes off and vents his frustration to the Corinthians. Basically, he felt as though his rights were being violated. He sees the way that the Corinthians treat other preachers and teachers and shares his frustration that he and Barnabas not only don’t receive equal treatment but are criticized because they don’t share the same life experience.
He writes, “This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me. Don’t we have the right to food and drink? Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas? Or is it only I and Barnabas who lack the right to not work for a living?…If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more?”Paul, I Corinthians 9:3-6, 11-12
I feel like this is quite similar the conversations I hear circulating in certain Christian circles these days; conversations focused on rights and questioning if fair treatment is taking place.
But this is where the conversation diverges. Because Paul doesn’t stop there. In fact, Paul doesn’t stop.
Paul follows this line of questioning with a very important statement:
But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.Paul, I Corinthians 9:12b
He goes on to say, “But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me, for I would rather die than allow anyone to deprive me of this boast. For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach.”
And my question is this: What gospel are we preaching?
A gospel of personal rights and individual freedoms or a gospel of laying down ones’ life for a friend?
A gospel of claiming what we feel is rightfully ours or relinquishing our claim so that others might see Jesus?
A gospel of independence and personal comfort or a gospel of humility that doesn’t nothing out of selfish ambition?
One might ask why I would use this platform, a platform dedicated to connecting generations and promoting discipleship within our communities to address this topic.
It’s pretty simple actually. I am compelled. I am compelled like Paul to preach the gospel which is summed up by Jesus in Matthew 22 as “Love God, Love Others” and by Paul as “Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures … he was buried. . . . The third day he rose again from the dead, according to the Scriptures . . . and he appeared (1 Cor. 15).
Generation Z (teenagers) and Generation Alpha (children 10 and under) are the first American generations being described as “post-Christian” (Source). The divide between generations politically, religiously, and socially has never been wider. If we want to have a platform to even begin to share the love of Jesus with the next generation, we’ve got to do as Paul did and relinquish our rights in deference for love.
Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.Paul, I Corinthians 9:19-23
When our rights become bigger than the gospel, we can’t be surprised when our faith and our Savior are summarily dismissed by those who view our arguments as selfish and unkind. And, overwhelmingly, those who hold that view are our children.
I write this with full knowledge that many will disagree. But like Paul, I am compelled. The rising generations are rejecting the individualistic, nationalistic approach to faith that has characterized much of the evangelical church and, simultaneously, rejecting the God who has been tied to these expressions. Instead, these generations place a high value on relational open conversation that allows space to listen well and be heard (Source). And I would rather, like Paul, relinquish any rights I might feel I could claim in order to be in that place of relationship and conversation those who most need to hear about the love of Christ.
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.Paul, Philippians 2:1-4
It’s Time To ReFocus
Are you interested in moving your church from a traditional, age-segregated into a more family-focused, intergenerational focus, connecting the home and the church?
Refocus Ministry would be happy to begin a conversation with your team and church about the how your church can grow in serving the families of your church and community and connecting your faith community in relationship with each other.
Ongoing coaching through various means is also available as your church continues the transition including weekly emails, monthly on-line trainings, and continued conversations. In addition to one-on-one coaching calls and follow-up resources, the following large-group presentations can be made available to your team, pastoral staff, or congregation.
Options to choose from for these presentations include:
- Presenting on a Sunday morning to your worship service(s)
- A parent webinar on Everyday Discipleship and partnering with the church community
- A presentation on Connecting Generations (importance, need, Biblical foundation) for your leadership team
- A training on a specific area of ministry such as Family VBS, Partnering with Parents, Equipping Volunteers, Creating an Intergenerational Culture for your ministry or leadership team.
- OTHER – We will work to create a presentation that best suits your community’s needs
Use the contact form below to receive a customized quote for your congregations needs. We look forward to journeying with you to make Psalm 145, one generation to another, part of our church’s DNA.
For more information about…
- Kids in Worship
- Determining which Type of Family Ministry model works best for your church
- Discipleship in Intergenerational community
- Encouraging the continued conversation through Practical Discipleship at Home
- Seminars, Workshops, Coaching
Refocus Ministry was started by Christina Embree who serves as the Minister of Generational Discipleship with the Great Lakes Conference of the Brethren in Christ. She is also wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and pastor at Plowshares BIC.
With years of experience in family ministry and children’s ministry, she is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. She holds a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry and is completing a Doctorate of Ministry in Spiritual Formation at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, ChurchLeaders.com, and Seedbed.
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