Thank you for checking out this article in the “Missing in Missional” guest blog post series. Below, I have listed links to all current “Missing in Missional” posts. Thanks again to Fred Liggin, Matt Maestas, Kathy Escobar, Gibby Espinoza, Chris Lenshyn, Michelle Funderburg, and (next week’s contributor) Charles Kiser for challenging us into Christ-formed action.
I apologize for the brief hiatus, but we are back with Part #5 of the Missing in Missional Guest Post Blog Series.
Today’s invitation and challenge comes from Chris Lenshyn, Associate Pastor of Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Abbotsford, British Columbia. With his wife and son, Chris is “attempting missional anabaptist living…entrenched within the endless and very multicultural sub-urban/urban sprawl of the Fraser Valley.”
“Intergenerational Missional Practice”
His daughter was just baptized and we had moved into the sharing portion of our Sunday morning service. He slowly stood up and started sharing about how thankful he was for our church community. It wasn’t a thankfulness for the ‘programs’ or the other churchy things. It was an ‘in your face’ genuine thankfulness for the relational investment that many people from many different age groups at many different times have given to his daughter over the course of her 18 years of life.
It was a relational investment from a community that had a very important intergenerational flair. He was thankful for the important and formative voice of experience begotten by an ‘earthed discipleship.’
Missional communities and practice need to be intergenerational.
It is easy to jump on board with the word ‘missional.’ It has hit the mainstream of popular Christian lingo. We put it in our vision statements, book titles, and even blogs in the hopes to get on board with the momentum. To be missional could even suggest that you are a cool, hip (hipster?) Christian.
In my contexts anyway and others that I have heard of, missional language and the pursuit of missional culture in churches has trended towards leaving empty nesters and seniors in the dust often pitting the ‘old ways’ of church up and against this ‘new’ kind of ‘missional church’ that ‘gets it.’
While discussions about how church is to ‘be’ are vital to participating in what God is doing in a particular time and place, a theological ostraciz’ation’ of the voice of Christian maturity is a fundamental mistake.
Missional communities across North America are screaming for good, solid, mature Christian leadership. It’s not in an insane super Christian leader kind of way, but a cry for the mere presence of maturity, participating in community and doing life together in the name of Jesus. Imagine how beautiful an earthed, incarnational (ministry of presence), intergenerational, community of missional practitioners would be.
Just as the presence of many generations in the life of the man’s daughter greatly facilitated her spiritual maturity, so too do our missional communities need that presence. The ‘earthed’ voice of Christian discipleship, fertilized over many many years will bring much value to missional culture.
The movement to practicality is important as we engage and discern what God is doing in our particular times and places. The voice of all generations’ is fundamental to understanding how to jump on board with God’s activity. Here are a few examples of what that could look like. They are fairly general in the hope that these examples would be a spring board for creatively pursuing something similar in your context.
- Care-giving. A simple and very practical way in which to not only serve the needs of an aging population, but to build relationship. As social money for senior care-giving (in Canada anyway) is on the decline, the need for churches and missional communities to provide care-giving is becoming more and more imperative.
- Story telling. Get a multitude of age groups together and share stories of discipleship. Stories of discipleship from a different era are tremendously important. I’ll never forget hearing from a 70 year old woman about what it was like living during World War 2 where loss of loved ones was all too common. A world completely foreign to many.
- Serving together. There are these ladies in our church who have been making blankets for years. These blankets make it out to various places in our world giving warmth and tangible hope to many. Our youth group made blankets with them. It was a blessing to see generations’ together serving. Missional at its best and It’s been around for 30 years.
- Share meals together. A classic way in which relate. It was a blessing for me to sit with a woman 86 years of age, who with her husband, invited 6 of us 20-30 ‘somethings’ and our kids over to her place. While our kids were screaming in the background we were talking about drug usage and the benefits of safe drug use zones.
It all speaks to building relationships. It all speaks to the importance of an earthed discipleship. It all speaks to a mixing of lived experience staring you right in the face as you converse about matters of faith, life, death and everything in between. It’s a reminder that as we seek to participate with God deep in the trenches of our contexts that paying attention to our relationships in our community cannot be overlooked. May we remember that God is at work in the many people of many different ages each offering a particular type of earthed faith experience. Missional theology and practice needs to be framed and practiced, in each our particular times and places, within the context of an intergenerational community.
Questions for further discussion;
Can you navigate between generational differences (think modern vs postmodern, liberal vs conservative etc…) to find value in the voice of experience for missional conversation and discernment?
Is your context quick to indentify the missional theology as the new ‘thing’ that ‘get’s it’ while labelling others as missing the point? Why or why not?
Where do you see the benefits of a mature earthed discipleship for the missional theological conversation in your context? What are the negatives?
This post reflects the need for intergenerational missional communities. How can we significantly value the voice and experience of children?