There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.John 15:13 (NLT)
If we asked Jesus who are the friends in question? He would probably reply with a story, “a man was travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho…”
I think a big question for the Kirk today is whether we are willing to follow Jesus’ example and lay down our life for our friends. In the same way as the Kirk, in relation to climate change, asks us to consider future generations and also those worst affected by climate change (for example). Are we also willing to consider future generations and the vast number in our nation today, that are yet to meet Christ?
A friend of mine once questioned whether it is fair to ask churches filled with septuagenarians and octogenarians to change to become the source of mission to young unchurched familes or fresh expressions of Church. And although I have known some spritely and missional seventy and eighty year olds, in most cases the answer is no. However, we must avoid forming similarly immutable communities amongst the newer communities we are planting or nurturing.
Like Peter trying to build structures to contain the wonder of the transfigured Lord, we have formed congregations which are monuments instead of temporary accommodation for pilgrims. In the next generation of churches might we encourage the formation of communities that are willing to sacrifice their own preferences and comfort for the sake of the lost.
It does already happen. I’ve heard of elderly congregations that were so committed to the spread of the Gospel that they essentially gave their buildings or resources to new growing churches. But I suspect that is not the norm. Indeed most of us struggle to give up our usual seat for a visitor let alone hand over the entire building to a community that will not maintain worship as we know it.
Having said all that, perhaps you will remind me of this, and keep me accountable, when you next find me moaning about the younger generations who don’t appreciate Star Wars or 90s guitar bands and try to make me look happy during worship.