At a recent Sunday evening service, one of the testimonies given was that BBC is a “multigenerational church.” The person who used these words went on to explain that this fact is evidenced by the reality of different generations growing up and entering into ministry within the church and ministering to the next generation. What a blessing indeed!
Sadly, many churches today, worldwide, are not multigenerational and there seems to be a growing trend to have churches and worship services that are geared towards specific generations (e.g. a service for the younger ones, a service for the older—more mature!—ones, etc.). If you walk into the average church in the UK (a country that once sent out the most missionaries), you will find mainly grandparents and grandchildren left in their care by their parents who have no interest in church.
Is this the biblical model? And if not, then how do we as the Brackenhurst Baptist Church ensure that we continue to grow and remain a multigenerational church?
In the apostle Paul’s epistle to the Ephesian believers, he focused in the first half of his letter on theology, emphasising the doctrine of the New Testament church. In the second half he focused on the practical outworking of that theology, as he addressed Christian behaviour in light of doctrine.
In this latter section he addressed—among other groups—wives, husbands, children and fathers. He quite clearly was addressing all generations, for it was a multigenerational church—as we are to be.
The main point of this article is not to prove that we should be a multigenerational church (that is a fairly obvious statement) but to ask how we remain one. Indeed, it is my desire to exhort us to do so. This of course, is a large topic, but I would like to highlight some areas that we need to work on that will help us to continue in this direction.
How do we remain attractive to the younger generation (for those of us who are older) and how do we remain attractive to the older generation (for those who are younger)?
We need to be constantly striving to ensure that we are growing in Christlikeness, and that this is displayed in our lives practically and visibly. What do I mean by that? Let me give you some practical examples (and this is by no means exhaustive).
Husbands, Paul said, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Ephesians 5:25-33). Are you doing so? Do you love your wife sacrificially? Are you dying to self and loving her? Are your children (whom you desire to be attracted to the truth) observing you doing so? Are your parents observing this in you? Do you love her in spite of and despite her blemishes? Or do you love her only after she submits to you? Is your love for her conditional, depending on her response? Are you washing her with the water of the Word—not preaching at her, but leading her? If not, then can we expect the next generation to be attracted to what we preach?
Husbands, are you loving your wife to the point where she desires to submit to you? Let me remind you that Christ gave Himself for the church, not because of any good in her, but because He purposed to do so. Men, let us purpose in our hearts to love our wives as we have been commanded, not suggested.
Wives: Paul said “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Saviour of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything” (Ephesians 5:22-24).
How do you see your submission to your husband? More importantly, how do your children see your submission to your husband? How does your unsaved husband see your submission to him? How do your parents see your submission to your husband? Is it as commanded in the Scriptures, or is it conditional submission, no submission, or partial submission? Is it a commitment to submit only if and when he loves you as Christ loved the church? Do you submit to him though he does not seem to love you unconditionally? Do you so submit to him that he is moved by your submission to love you? Do not be deceived, you are being watched by your children, your parents, your siblings and those around you. Is it attractive if you say you believe something but do not do it?
Children: Are you obeying your parents in the Lord because it is the right thing to do (Ephesians 6:1-3)? How do you obey: with joy, willingly, immediately, constantly? Do your parents see that your profession of being in the kingdom is marked by changes which indicate conversion? And as you do so, the promise goes on: “that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth.”
Fathers: Are you deliberately bringing up your children in the training and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4)? Do you provoke them to discouragement? Do your children see in you a consistent love for God, a love for His Word? Or do they see you forsaking the gathering of the saints for other priorities (e.g. sport, leisure)? Do they see a commitment to the body of Christ in your participation and service within the body? (Remember, we all have gifts from God, to be used for service in the body.) Do they see a submission to the authority of Christ? Do they see a love for the body of Christ that is attractive?
As a result of seeing these qualities in us, there is no doubt that our children, spouse, parents and all those that make up a multigenerational church will have a desire to be a part of and remain a part of the local church. But if they do not see these characteristics then most likely they will have little desire to be a part of what appears to be false.
The chorus of a song sung by Steve Green captures it eloquently and accurately:
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful;
may the fire of our devotion light their way;
may the footprints that we leave
lead them to believe,
and the lives we live inspire them to obey.
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful!
As we continue to give thanks to God for blessing us with a multigenerational church, let us continue to press forward in our desire to grow and to live in Christlikeness.