For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. Romans 12:3-5
As I walked into the grand entrance, I was quickly ushered into a seat by a little lady in her late fifties. She was adamant that I sat in the middle of this relatively small church as there were far more distinguished guests than myself still to arrive. She frantically hurried-in more people, tightly packing them into the rows. She became increasingly flustered as she made sure everyone moved along in order to maximize the seating potential, eager to leave the front three rows of seats completely free of people. However when just a handful of the supposedly three rows of distinguished guests arrived the church looked somewhat out of balance.
I’d like to point out that this is no direct attack on the church but an observation on the inner social workings of the church. I’d be surprised if you had never heard the phrase ‘church is not the building, but the people in it’. That certainly is true but I often wonder does that go far enough? Are we challenged enough to focus on the church as a collective group of individuals each with different stories and journeys of faith?
What does church look like to us? Does church look like a place where distinguished guests sit in the front three rows with the rest of the rabble behind? Does church look like people segregated into areas respective of age or relationship status, if you have young family or if you don't? As Christians, we are a group of believers, brothers and sisters in Christ, a family. I’m absolutely convinced that this should be reflected in the life of our church. A church which molds together regardless of age or social standing, occupation or family background, a church for example where students supporting families is as important as families supporting the students.
I know it is the heart of many church leaders to see this happen at their church. However it's all well and good for them to have and promote this vision, but what happens if nobody catches on? Who will make the first move? So many of our church expressions such as cell groups, youth groups or student ministry are divided up into specific age categories and for development it's argued that this maybe the most effective way of operating. However this possibly means that without being bold in stepping out, it's very possible for a student to worship at a church and be involved in a church without knowing anyone outside your social sphere.
Why don’t we make the first move, as daunting and scary as it sounds? It is my personal mission this year to try and get to chat to one new person or family a week outside of my age group, whether at my home church or in university. That's 52 new people a year. Some weeks I might not manage it but it is the first vital steps. I believe greater and more diverse social interaction between different individuals will ultimately lead to a healthier and more prosperous church.
Iwan our first year student guest blogger is back with challenging and wise words on being a student in church but stepping out of the age-group bubble to truly connect with the whole family.
Photo Credit: Tom Bullock