There’s Mud Ahead: Why Intergenerational Churches are Vital

We were on a hike at the local state park. It was a beautiful day, and the shade during our walk provided a welcome reprieve from the sun’s rays. The excitement of “actually getting out of the house” hurried our preparations for exploring nature. We were armed with bottled water and our normal hiking clothes. It was time to have fun. Even the kids were enthused about the event (which speaks volumes since it had nothing to do with electronics). On the way to the park, we discussed what path we would take, and decided on one that was not terribly long, but provided some good scenic views. We had a late morning start so we wanted to make sure we timed it out right to eat lunch at the appropriate time.

As the hike started, we had a fairly typical experience (nodding our heads to people we passed, telling the kids not to pick up rocks and sticks, recounting stories of previous hikes, etc.). Then, as we approached an older couple walking the opposite direction, they told us of a hazard that we were about to experience. The rain from 2 days prior had caused certain low areas to collect water and form large mud pits that were difficult to cross. We thanked the couple for letting us know what was ahead of us, and trekked forward. Sure enough, we reached exactly what they described, and it was nice because we had mentally prepared for it. There were 3 different areas that contained mud and when we passed them, we soon saw other hikers who had not yet approached the mud pits. We then told them about what they were going to experience so they were also prepared.

This experience led me to reflect on Deuteronomy 6; a deeply foundational section of scripture referred to as “The Shema”. It is called this, because the first word in verse 4, in Hebrew, is literally “shema” (to listen/hear). In this writing (which was, and still is, regularly repeated/ prayed by committed Jews) emphasizes the holiness of God and our obedient response to Him. It also goes on to command followers to embed the message on their hearts AND pass down this communication to the next generation. This command wasn’t just conveyed to people with children, but to the whole worship community. It was everyone’s job to make sure this message was being preserved for future generations. It is life-giving and requires remembrance.  

For many, it becomes tempting to seek out worship communities that mostly reflect their own current context in life. People often try to find congregations that have mostly people their own age, with the same age of children, or perhaps containing young married couples that share their same interests. I think this can be a mistake (depending on the heart attitude). While some of this is great, often what happens is that entire churches shut out those of other generational demographics. There tend to be a lack of older people with more life experience to help guide and disciple. Then, a new church growth book is published, and the author essentially wags his/ her finger at the older generation, telling them they have abandoned the younger generation.

In the same way that nice older couple told us about the mud hazard ahead, we need intergenerational worship experiences to help us prepare for future physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental hazards. If facilitated in a healthy way, the more mature generation can pour into the less mature by utilizing their stories. We simply cannot get this without older and younger generations experiencing life together. Older believers have a command (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) that they need to fulfill. Let’s not rob them of that.

Love you all.

-Landon DeCrastos

A Thief in the Night

lightHave you ever had something stolen from you? It is a unique feeling that only occurs when this event takes place. When I was a youth pastor in Florida, my wife and I lived in an apartment complex only a few miles away from the church.  It was a safe neighborhood, and everyone we met was very friendly.

One morning, we decided to sleep in and get a little extra rest. We had gone to bed late the night before watching a movie, and were in a deep sleep. All of the sudden we were jolted awake by a knock on the door. It was a loud knock. We were not expecting company, and we were still “rockin’ the pj’s”. I rushed out to the front room and looked through the peephole only to see a shiny police badge on the chest of a large buzz cut human being. He looked like he meant business.

“Can I help you?”, I questioned. I assumed he had the wrong apartment, and if this was the case I was poised to be a little cranky because I wanted more sleep. “Are you the owner of a silver Chevy Cobalt?”, he asked. I nodded my head, and he motioned me outside of the apartment. When he took me to our car, I saw a pile of shattered glass. Someone had broken into our car and several other cars. For some reason, this also happened to be the first (and last) time I had ever left my wallet in my car out in the open. Yep…you guessed it. It was stolen.

You may have been in this situation before. We felt so violated, and immediately our minds went to how we were going to respond to this event. We wanted justice. We wanted these people to be caught. We wanted our stuff back. We wanted more sleep! There was also a little part of us that wanted to give up because we didn’t think there was ever going to be a way to recoup the cost of hat was taken. After the dust settled and we figured out logistics, we realized that it was only stuff and we were going to be okay.

As I reflected on this situation I realized that this feeling is what many deal with on a regular basis. Perhaps not in the sense that someone broke into their car and stole a wallet, but often in a much deeper way. Many feel like something has been taken from them. This feeling could come from an abusive past, a damaged relationship, constant disappointment, or the aftermath of addiction. The result can be extremely harmful, because the feeling of violation slowly emerges over time. Due to the speed of its full onset many people become so comfortable with this feeling, but cannot point out why they are miserable, because this becomes normal. They develop unhealthy habits, lifestyles, and patterns of behavior all because their life is now (while they do not admit it) defined by the pain that they have been feeling for such a long time.

We may never fully know the hurt people are dealing with, but we do know where to find the antidote. We all bring a certain amount of pain and experience to the table. We have to approach people with love and grace, and try to understand them before we jump to conclusions. God understands how we think, operate, and respond to the world around us but He wants to free us from unhealthy patterns that only perpetuate this type of life.

As Christians, we are called to help people sort out the logistics of the mess that they are in, and point them to restoration. First, we pray that God will equip us to lead people to freedom. Then, we approach life with a willingness to be used by God in any way He sees fit. This is an uncomfortable position to be in, but a necessary one in order to be used by God to the fullest of our potential. We will not always be thanked for this, because many are in love with their pain, and don’t want to be awaken from their sleep. Scripture shows us our brokenness, and a relationship with God provides the grace for mending. When people are rescued from their darkness, they become a powerful weapon against darkness, because they knew what it felt like to feel alone.

The thief of our soul wants us to stay broken. He wants us to stay violated. His desire is destruction.

Be a change agent. A hope dealer. Spread the light.

-Landon DeCrastos