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This Is Real & I Am Not Okay

“When the Church stops talking about Jesus, it has nothing to say”

Alan Hirsch, Founder, Forge America

It is rare to catch me speechless.  Yesterday afternoon, when I saw this postcard hanging on my fridge from a local church who handed them out in my neighborhood, I was speechless. Mouth hanging open in disbelief, torn between thinking this had to be a joke and recognizing just how far we have come as the church in America.

Today, I have found my voice. And I am not okay.

One of my personal core values is holding a generous orthodoxy; recognizing I share my Christian faith with millions of others who don’t necessarily hold the same theological convictions that I do but are Christ-followers who desire to love God and love others with the same passion that I do. Our commonality is Jesus; He is our foundation and we stand together in desiring to help others know the life and love found in Him.

But this? My generosity cannot extend this far.

When we take something called “Vacation BIBLE School” that happens on a location intended for worship of Jesus Christ and choose a theme that exalts, not God, not Jesus, not the body of Christ, NOTHING pertaining to or about our faith but.. a country, a nation-state… oh friends, how far we have fallen?

If anyone knows me, you know I’m not necessarily a fan of traditional VBS because of the “drop off the kids and leave” format and the expense of both time and energy that a church and children’s ministry often have to give to the experience. BUT for the most part, the desire and the goal of the church is to introduce the kids who are participating to Jesus.  Themes aside, the heart of the message is Jesus.

I cringe as I think about my neighbors receiving a postcard from a church for their children’s programming that is themed “I love America” with no mention of Jesus. The same neighbors who see so-called “Christian” nationalism being used to bring harm and hate and injustice into the political realm, celebrating violence and debauchery and racism as though these were in any way related to Jesus and his call to holiness and love. The same neighbors who tell me they are “spiritual but not religious” because they don’t like how political the church has become.

And to do this with children. To take a space intended for discipleship and at the very least, invitation to know Jesus more, and turn it into a civic celebration focused on nationalistic fervor… at a church. A church! A place that was created for and intended to be focused solely and only on Jesus and our great commission.

Maybe I don’t have words. Maybe I am just angry. Maybe I am just sad.

Earlier this week in our ReFocus Summer Cohort, we talked about Jesus’ interactions with children and read this Scripture “And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18:5,6).

When I saw this postcard on my fridge and I stood looking at it dumbfounded that this was happening in my neighborhood, I could not help but think of this verse. We are to welcome children “in his name.”  His name is nowhere to be found here. I don’t really care what happens on-site that week, if Jesus gets talked about within a context of loving America. We start with Jesus. Period. In this case, like so many others, context matters. It matters deeply.

When the Church stops talking about Jesus, it has nothing to say.

ReFocus Roundtable: Connecting Generations in Discussion Together

July 18, 2024 from 1 pm to 2pm, EST (12 pm CST)

The benefits of intergenerational relationships on both young and old have been enumerated by researchers and ministers alike but in many circles, there is resistance especially from adults. Many adults express that they feel uncomfortable engaging with younger generations. Offering the reticent a few tools for positive interactions can lead to opportunities that lead to meaningful relationships and lifelong discipleship. 

We invite you to join us for this interactive conversation as our shared voices will help us all to connect generations in meaningful relationships for lifelong discipleship. 

It’s Time To Connect

ON SALE NOW! $99 Total (regularly $149)!

Connect Generations Coaching is a one-time intensive coaching experience that uses a research-based ministry assessment tool designed for churches to complete in less than a week.

This unique coaching experience offers specific insight into the barriers and bridges to connect generations and bring your community together. The Connect Generations Ministry Assessment Tool & Coaching Experience are available now for only $99.

About the Founder of ReFocus Ministry

Christina Embree is the founder and director of ReFocus Ministry. She holds a masters in ministry focused on Children, Youth, and Family Ministry and a doctorate in spiritual formation with a focus on age segregation and intergenerational ministry.

In addition to coaching churches of multiple denominations and traditions all around the globe, Christina serves as the Minister of Generational Discipleship for the Great Lakes Conference of the Brethren in Christ and as Next Gen pastor at Open Door Church in Lexington, Kentucky.

She is widely recognized as a speaker and author in the areas of generational discipleship, intergenerational ministry, and family ministry. As the mother of three children, she is familiar with the challenges of faith at home and pastoral ministry. She along with her husband Luke share a love for the church, their community, and the global work of peace and restoration through Jesus.

Interested in having Christina visit your church, speak at your conference, or coach your team?

Christina speaks on a wide range of topics related to children, youth, and family ministry with a unique focus on connecting generations for discipleship within your church. Her personalized approach allows you to pinpoint the needs of your community and gain the insight that you are looking for. Whether this is a volunteer team training and pastoral staff meeting or a ministerial conference, her experience and knowledge will help you determine the next step forward in creating lifelong disciples.

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We're made for connection. What is keeping us apart?

Take the Connect Generations Assessment and identify the bridges and barriers to discipleship in your church