A Family Has All Generations

A Family Has All Generations

My values of church health and church growth were shaped at the apex of the church growth movement. I became an informed proponent of the homogeneous reality of church planting and church growth.

I remain convinced that when our Lord instructed us to make disciples of all ta ethne, He was instructing us to penetrate every people group with the Gospel.

People are in the main not wired up to be alone. People group together with people like them or with people who share common interest. That is a fact. It is also a fact that planting the gospel in those identifiable groups of people is a productive evangelism strategy. The scriptures have many examples of people group evangelism. Consider that after his healing, the Gadarene demonaic desired to go with Jesus in the boat. Jesus instructed him to leave the boat and return to his ta ethne, his people group, with the Good News of redemption.

Recently I have begun to separate an evangelism strategy of penetrating people groups with the gospel and planting churches. I have come to understand that a purely homogeneous church is not at all a picture of the kingdom. A purely homogeneous church reflects our human nature to hang with those who are like us and to shun those who are different. Hardly a value to be found in the kingdom of God.

Much to my joy, I am discovering a core value among young pastors/planters to strategically plant multicultural churches. The planting of multicultural churches is a great witness to the community. When a nonbeliever encounters a gospel community that is diverse in ethnicity, they realize there is something different about this group. This is not the normal way people group together. These people are motivated by different values. This is a glimpse of heaven.

Chief among the many things we can identify about the first-century church recorded in the New Testament is the fact that they were a multigenerational church. Paul instructs Timothy concerning his youth and his leadership. He guides young Timothy in the process of correcting the older men. Instructions are given to young women and older women, to young men and older men. Yet in most churches today, especially in most church plants, there are very few older people. In most dying churches there are very few younger people. If the church is a family then like all families it should contain many generations.

A church made of many generations is uncommon and difficult because Satan fully knows the powerful testimony a multigenerational church will have upon a self-centered world. Satan uses all of the weakness of our flesh to work against us as we seek to embrace generations unlike ours. In our human and sinful nature we grow weary with people who see the world, understand technology, make decisions and process information different than we do. It takes work to love and understand each other. It requires that people of all generations have to subordinate their desires for the Glory of God and the advancement of His kingdom. It means we have to think less of ourselves and much more of God and the Gospel. It means we have to live the gospel not just sing about, talk about and read about it. It means that when we battle our flesh and embrace the joy of self-sacrifice for the Kingdom we discover a joy that is far deeper then the joy of having things our own way. But it requires an ongoing battle of our human nature.

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John Mark Clifton is a pastor, church planter, church revitalizer, mission strategist, coach, and mentor to young leaders. He has planted numerous churches and most recently replanted a dying urban core church in Kansas City, MO.