One of the difficult nuts to crack for any group of people, and maybe especially churches, is how to teach young ones (or recent converts) how to “do” life. There are literally countless programs for a minister to choose from that promise to “activate the lay men and women” or “re-vitalize your people” or “catalyze the love” or some such nonsense.
I was moved today when an elderly, and I mean very elderly, woman came by the church. She stopped for just a minute. In her old Scottish accent that never dims no matter how long she lives in Canada, she asked the administrative assistant to hold onto a gift for a baby shower because she will be away in Scotland next week, when the shower is to happen.
They are not related.
They haven’t got the same background.
They are from very different generations.
The older wants to shower the younger with love.
It’s a beautiful moment. A transaction based on who we want to be, a people of faith doing life together, caring for each other.
Much has been made about how when our church is large enough that you may not know everyone, and certainly will know only a few well, church can become cold, distant, a far cry from the family we are meant to be as brothers and sisters in the faith. The truth is, where there is love and kindness, these challenges can be overcome. At any rate the exact same challenges could be present in a much smaller congregation too because they represent a cultural issue more than a numeric one.
We don’t need another program.
We need love.
Not to be too wishy washy about it we do need one more component. We need to take people along. The only way for the youngers to learn how to do it right, before it’s too late and there is no one left who knows how to be a community of faith, is to take someone by then hand and walk alongside them.
It needn’t be a great act, nor a big deal, but it need be an intentional undertaking.
I have benefited a great from this sort of quiet and humble teaching in my time here. Watching people care for one another, elders quietly and subtly helping me find my way as a minister, little stories of people loving on each other—a card here, a phone call there, maybe a gift, maybe an envelope of desperately needed money, a wedding or baby shower gift thoughtfully left ahead of time—small actions done with great love.
What can you model or teach?
Who can you teach?