Generations: Intergenerational by Abidan Shah, PhD

GENERATIONS – INTERGENERATIONAL by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction: Back in February of this year, WSOC-TV in Charolotte ran a story of some of the churches for sale near Charlotte. It is truly heartbreaking! According to Lifeway Research, more Protestant churches close in a year than new ones start. In 2019, only 3000 new ones opened, but 4500 shut down. According to Pew Research, by 2070, the population of Christians in America will fall below 50% of the population. About the same period, the percentage of those who claim “nones” will probably rise from 30% to possibly 52%. Although these stats are not always the whole picture, they are very grim. Having said that, I believe that God is doing something big and powerful, especially in the younger generations. Today is the 3rd and final message in our series titled “Generations.” We have heard from so many people, Clearview members/attendees as well as other churches, as to how much this short series has helped them. We thank God for that. Once again, the goal of this series: Not Entertain but Educate. Not list Caricatures but Come to Know. Not Poke Fun but Stoke the Faith of our Younger Generations. If we care about the eternal destinies of our children and grandchildren, then this is not optional. Today’s message subtitled “Intergenerational” will help us understand how to implement what we know into the life of the church.

Acts 20        7 Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight. 8 There were many lamps in the upper room where they were gathered together. 9And in a window sat a certain young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep. He was overcome by sleep; and as Paul continued speaking, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. 10 But Paul went down, fell on him, and embracing himsaid, “Do not trouble yourselves, for his life is in him.” 11 Now when he had come up, had broken bread and eaten, and talked a long while, even till daybreak, he departed. 12 And they brought the young man in alive, and they were not a little comforted.

Context: This is one of the funniest stories in the Bible! There is nothing new under the sun! People sleep in churches today and people slept in churches back then. Young people can get bored in churches today and young people were bored in churches back then. Sometimes we tend to think that there was a golden age of the church in New Testament times, and that’s just not true. Maybe, there was something special about the early church since it was just born, but I don’t think that it lasted forever. People are people no matter what generation it is. From the story we just read, I want us to learn that young people were in the church, even though bored and sleepy, and when one of them was hurt, they stopped everything to meet his need.

This was the pattern of the church. Throughout its history, different generations came together to witness and work towards the plan of God. The precedent was set in the Old Testament, and it was carried on in the New Testament.

So also, our goal at Clearview is to have different generations come together but let me clarify: it is not enough just to be a “multigenerational church;” we are to be an “intergenerational church.” Multi means all generations on campus but Inter means we interact, grow, and serve together in Christ and his Word. There are several kinds of intergenerational churches. Some are very hard core but some are balanced. I want us to be the balanced kind. Worship – together; Sunday school/Discipleship – separate; Many activities – we intentionally come together. In all, there must be the understanding of being a family. Let me give you some examples from the Book of Acts:

Acts 2       46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

Acts 10      1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, 2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always.

Acts 16      13 And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there. 14 Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. 15 And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” So she persuaded us.

Acts 16      29 Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. 34 Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.

Acts 18:8 Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all hishousehold. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized.

Acts 21:5 When we had come to the end of those days (in Tyre), we departed and went on our way; and they all accompanied us, with wives and children, till we were out of the city. And we knelt down on the shore and prayed.

I hope this brief survey helps you see how the church had many generations worshipping and serving together. We begin by affirming some family values that do not change. Then, there are things that can and should change. 

What doesn’t change? 

  • Bible (inerrant, inspired word of God),
  • Trinity (one God in three persons)
  • Gospel (from 1 Cor. 15, Acts 16, and Ephesians 2     8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.),
  • Jesus (the Promised One, God’s Only Son, fully God became fully Man, John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”),
  • Sin (Separates us from God and each other, Eph. 2:1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins),
  • Eternity (John 3:16, Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”; Hebrews 9:27 “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment”)
  • Holiness (1 Peter 1      15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
  • Holy Spirit (John 14     16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. Romans 15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.)
  • Church, (Matthew 16:18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.)
  • More… 

What does change? Many of our methods and styles do change. To be a church that is willing to accept change, we need to have a certain mindset towards those of the younger generation:

1. Be a Coach, not a Critic.

This advice was given to me by a fellow pastor who was a veteran in the ministry. It has helped me tremendously. So also, think of a good coach. Be that way towards younger people in the church family.

2. Be a Fellow Traveler, not a Gatekeeper.

Sometimes people like to tell you how naïve you are and how they know so much more than you. This is such a foolish way of relating with others. It doesn’t help anyone or get them to like you.

At men’s breakfast at Clearview, this is happening every month.

3. Be a Student of the ways of others, not Stuck in your ways.

This is the reason for the series on Generations. We want you to understand other generations, especially as they relate to your children and grandchildren.

As Vance Havner would say “Older folks keep things from going too fast and the younger folks keep things from going too slow.”

4. Be an Investor, not a Consumer.

Be pilgrims not preschoolers (Don’t be like children in nursery fighting over toys.)

Beliefs – older; worship – younger.

If we don’t get this right, we will be on TV one day for the wrong reason. These church buildings make perfect halls for Hindu temples and Muslim mosques.

Invitation: Are you saved? Are you working towards being an Intergenerational Member of the church?

Acts 4:12 “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

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