Not Expecting Effort is Deadly

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NEED can be a tragic thing? I’m not talking about one the basic human needs. I’m talking about a particular NEED that resides in most churches today, especially the fastest growing churches in America. I’m not talking about every church, but probably the majority of churches. This tragic and deadly NEED is the title of this blog post:

Not

Expecting

Effort is

Deadly

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but my generation has a little entitlement issue. Seriously. We expect to live the way our parents live today, even though they spent thirty to forty years earning what they have today. We expect all of our needs to be met without reservation or without unreasonable effort. Sacrifice is a word we really don’t understand or accept as reasonable. We deserve all that we currently have, in fact, we deserve more than what we have. We are mistreated because we don’t have the newest smart phone or game system. We are down-trodden and abused because we aren’t getting paid as much as our boss, even though we’ve only been on-the-job for six hours. We are entitled to a high paying job because we graduated college and the senior who has actually been successful at the job for the last thirty years should lose his/her job to me. After all, I have the education and I am the future. I deserve that job more than him/her. This is the attitude of my generation. Of course I’m not talking about every single person, so let’s not split hairs on that. You and I both know my generation is spoiled rotten and we have entitlement issues. Also notice my language so far and throughout this blog will include myself as part of the problem. Yes, this is a problem. Ray Charles, Lord rest his soul, can see this.

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As a forty-one year old husband, father of four, pastor and American, I truly believe that transformation of my generation will only happen through revival.

“What generation?”

Great question…I’m not sure to be honest with you. It’s the tweens through the late fifties from what I see.

“Why a revival?”

A revival is a Christianese word used by many Chrsistians today to identify a valid event. Because of its use (perhaps overuse) in both Christian and secular circles, some find the term to carry a stigma of Pharisaic religiosity. However, regardless of this stigma I will use it. There is no better term to use for the purposes of this article.

Why a revival? Because the gentle approach to our generation isn’t working. The gentle approach we have taken in order to make sure we don’t offend the younger people isn’t working. The gentle approach we have taken in order to make sure we don’t push the younger generation away isn’t working. The gentle approach we have taken to make sure we don’t attach any expectations upon them in order to be a part of a “family” of believers, simply isn’t working. It never has and it never will. The hardest part for me is two-fold.

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First, it bothers me because you and I know that it hasn’t worked in the past, isn’t working now and won’t work in the future; yet we continue to walk on eggshells with this generation, falsely hoping the light bulb will at some point illuminate and we’ll all live happily ever after, as this generation leads us dynamically and spiritually into the next era. Notice, I said “false hope.”

Secondly, it bothers me because I believe the hidden truth behind why we take this fluffy pillow approach masked in the word “love,” is because we are scared. We are afraid. We are afraid of how they’ll respond. We are afraid of what they’ll say, what they’ll do. We are afraid of being overtaken, embarrassed and made to look old and stupid. We are afraid that what society says about us will somehow become a realization; that we are a bunch of “old schoolers” who can’t relate to this country, this world, and this generation anymore, thus we are irrelevant in society. We are a side-note people in society and in the church family.

That’s how we treat the seniors many times isn’t it? The seniors ministry is a favor to the old people who have gone before us, paved the way. Their work is done, now they need to stop holding on and get out of the way. Here’s an idea: let’s put them in a building, separate from everyone else so they won’t complain or get in the way of our movement as a church. We can appease their preferences and desires over there.

I wonder what Jesus would say about this? Marginalizing the seniors this way for the sake of growth and evangelism. Is this model a biblical one. What would Jesus say about this if He were in our church??? Wait, Jesus is here! Uh oh. But this isn’t just the younger generation’s fault. Church leadership carries a lot of the blame. The seniors carry fault too. The fault goes all around the room. We could just blame the devil and end the article now, but we know that’s just a cop-out. Plus, this article isn’t about pointing fingers. If you want that, please visit your local social network and start a conversation. This article is a challenge to the Church, the local church, and to you the individual (mostly to you the individual). This article is challenging the way we think about relating to my  generation and how you intentionally act toward us.

Open HandsYou see, the Church should absorb a lot of the blame for the attitudes of entitlement and lack of commitment by the younger generation in the local church. Much (not all) of the younger generation has a distorted church philosophy, which has turned into a solid church, social, and relational lifestyle both in church circles and the secular circles. Their approach to Christian spirituality and the church is the same approach the world takes to itself. Many attend church on a weekly basis, then leave and come back next week.

“What’s wrong with that Pastor? Isn’t that what we’re going for?”

Yo. That’s “yes” and “no.” Do we want people to attend church each week? Of course, that’s a no-brainer. Do we want people to give sacrificially? Yes. Do we want people to connect? Yes. The “no” is this: when an entire generation has been taught by the culture, the family, and the church that simply attending a church service once or twice a week with no expectation of investment of time or resources, then we’ve got a big, big problem.

“What’s the problem?”

The problem is this: we’ve evidently lost sight of what “family” means. We’ve lost sight of what it means to be a “fully devoted follower” of Jesus Christ. I equate this distorted attitude to my own family at home. I have a 15-year old daughter who, naturally, does not want to do dishes or clean her room and believes it to be ridiculous that anything at all be required or expected of her, except to simply exist, be served and cared for as she lives her life. I was the same way at this age and maybe you were too. The point is this: is this a biblical principle to live by in the context of being part of a “family”? After all, the local church is a “family of believers.” What kind of parent would I be if I told my daughter that she could come and go as she pleased? There are no expectations of chores or duties. In fact, she can eat all the food she wants, use the facilities all she wants and her mom and I will be glad to not only furnish her bedroom and toiletries, but make sure we purchase the food she prefers. We’ll even play the music she wants, regardless of what we want to listen to. We’ll bend over backwards to listen to her when she’s ready to talk and we won’t bother her at all. I mean, we don’t want to offend her or she’ll just rebel and we’ll never see the youth again.

What do you say about this parenting method? On a scale of 1 to 10, where is this one? Sound utterly ridiculous doesn’t it? But because of the fear we have of losing this generation, we are willing to do what we know for a fact does not work in order to falsely hope it will. All the while we twiddle our thumbs awaiting a miracle and fearfully “leave it up to the Lord.” This is weenie Christianity. Jesus gave us the Great Commission, not Himself. He didn’t give us the Great Remission. This commission work is the work of the Church, the local church, and the individual. We are responsible for the attitudes of entitlement in our churches. And here’s the hard core fact: we have not boldly, confidently and lovingly led my generation to understand what it means to be part of a “family.” This must change.

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Church, we must place the simple, biblical expectations on those who have chosen to be a part of our church family. To do otherwise feels so normal because it is normal, in the world. How is that “normal” working for the world? Divorce, promiscuity and selfishness is prevalent in the world. Guess what? It’s also prevalent in the local church. We have a serious problem and this serious problem can only be remedied through a strong and powerful revival caused by fully devoted followers of Jesus who set their fears aside and boldy and lovingly teach this generation what it means to follow Jesus. This revival will be caused by followers of Jesus and this revival will be empowered by the Holy Spirit of God.

I am not interested in sitting back hoping for God to do something. I am not interested in waiting for the older generation to pass away and hope God gives a spiritual bailout. I’m not interested in programs to serve the masses that you and I both know will only maintain the masses at best. I’ll tell you what I’m interested in. I’m interested in a gathering of fully devoted followers of Jesus who are ready to say, “Enough is enough. We are going to be visible examples of devotion to Jesus and His body, the Church. We’ll be that example in the giving of our time, resources, and talents for the sake of our very simple mission; to seek the lost and equip the found. Not only that, but we will expect those who join us to contribute because that’s what family members do. We all will have a role in serving.”

That is what Jamie Worley is interested in. I’m tired of the seniors being a side-note ministry and people. I’m tired of the seniors being afraid of offending the younger people. I’m tired of those who should be the example not being the example for those younger people. And I’m tired of contributing to the attitudes of entitlement the world has cultivated amongst my generation. It must stop in the Church. If we, the Church, don’t teach them otherwise, where will they learn? Who will teach them?

We are losing my generation because we are wilting under the fear caused by lies. We are losing my generation because no one will tell us the truth about devotion and commitment regarding personal relationships with people, with God, or with our local church family. We are losing my generation because the Church has done what the world is doing; handing us everything we want at no cost to us. What a deal…what a deal.

I’m challenging you; not the Church or a local church, but you as an individual. I’m challenging you to decide to be the example in your church, of a family member who gives your time, resources and talents in serving weekly in your respective church. Everyone can do something, so don’t give me the “I don’t have time” business. I’m also asking you to be vocal in teaching others what it means to be a “family member” of any local church family, or any family; to invest time and effort in serving. If a bunch of people start doing this, the attitudes that have overtaken my generation in the world and within the local church (and in a lot of those churches the leadership), the culture of our local churches will transform spiritually and thus dramatically. But like I said in the beginning of this article, it’s going to take a revival caused by the collision of faith and obedience by a few who truly care about my generation and powered by the Holy Spirit of God. He will move, He will heal, and He will save.

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act. – Psalm 37:5

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20

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