Your Kingdom come – A decade of holistic Disciple Making
This was the topic of the General Assembly of the World Evangelical Alliance in Jakarta. The week was very inspiring and gave a lot of food for thought and further action. I only wish there had been more time to wrestle with the topics addressed from stage around the table. Questions like: How is it possible to have participation from all generations in this huge task of discipleship making? What does it mean that in Matthew 28 only the “making disciples” is a command and the “going, teaching and baptizing” only accompanying signs? How can we ensure as churches, to not drift to the middle class but to stay with the weak, the vulnerable, the disenfranchised and those who are marginalized?
Often, I thought of my local church as we wrestle with these same topics.
Three men over 50 and a teenager. That is the around the table discussion group I found myself in the last church holiday week (groups changed daily). I was amazed how open and honest the sharing was; how weaknesses and failures were addressed. It was a successful intergenerational conversation. This coming together of the generations lasted the whole week and it touched me deeply and inspired me. This is my vision of being church.
Questions for the Evangelical Alliance
Where does the conversation of generations take place in our ranks? Are the over 50’ss willing to make themselves vulnerable? Do we believe that we can profit from such open interaction?
Entertain, participate, take responsibility
At the same time, I keep hearing that you should work in a target group-oriented way! That apparently brings success.
As a congregation, we have decided to be a generational church. This is expressed, for example, in our church services. They have elements for all generations. And we don’t just want to entertain, we want to encourage participation and share responsibility.
Admittedly, it is often a balancing act and it can also be quite exhausting. But actually, it is exactly what the Bible says: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither salve nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (NIV) One could add to this – “nor is there old nor young.”
The key is to give everyone, including children, appropriate responsibilities. Appropriate means: according to gifting, dreams and potential. This is because we are convinced that people do not simply want to be entertained but want to make their contribution.
Questions for the Evangelical Alliance
How are our gatherings set up? How is our communication coming across? Do we make room for women and for younger people? Do they feel part of the ministry? Do they get responsibilities? Can they equally shape the EA along with everyone else? Can they bring and use their gifts? Or do they just have to sit quietly in the back of the room – if they have not already left …? What do we mean by unity? Does unity include the sharing of influence and power?
Lonely or together
We live in a “crazy” world. On the one hand, people long for closeness, for “togetherness”. On the other hand, many people fear this closeness, they find it “overwhelming”. There is a place where community is lived out even across generations. This is a strong and visible statement. No, actually even more: it is a harbour where it is worth anchoring! The church.
What is the role of the Evangelical Alliance in Europe in all of this? This is a topic we need to keep wrestling with if we want to be relevant to our constituency. And we can do it because we are ideally positioned on a National and on a European level. Nobody understands so many facets of the Church as we do. There is also nobody as responsible to make all of these insights available as we are!
There is worthwhile work to do! And there is a great motivational celebration coming up which reminds us why we do this work: God has come into our neighbourhood through his son Jesus Christ. A reminder for us to be close to our fellow human beings.