For many years, our family has attended a small country church that sits about a mile from our rural Iowa home. Nestled among farmfields, our church has its own cemetery across the road.
Whenever I tell people from other parts of the United States and the world about our church, they are fascinated. We worship with people ranging in age from infancy to nearly 100 years old. Some Sundays, we sing hymns out of the old hymnal. Other Sundays, we sing contemporary songs that we play on screens at the front of the church.
At least once a month, I have the privilege of selecting the songs that we sing, and I project them onto TV screens attached to the wall. I call myself the church deejay. And Deejay Jenny Lee likes to play it loud when she drops a beat.
The people who attend our church don’t come for the technical effects on-stage or the worship band (we don’t have either). At Christmas, baby Jesus is a doll pulled from the toy bin in the nursery. I like to think the people who show up on Sunday do so for some solid teaching and to catch up with the down-home folks who look you in the eye when you’re talking with them.
Our church is a place where six generations of believers (sometimes from the same family line) have been baptized, confirmed, shepherded, married, comforted, held, and even buried. It’s a place where real people encounter the sustaining love of Jesus Christ.
And it happened because people showed up and kept showing up, kept sharing Christ’s love, kept humbling themselves before God, kept serving, kept learning, kept diligent in the faith —
Even when it was hard.
Even through wars.
Even through the Depression.
Even through intense personal trial, addiction, heartbreak, and devastation.
They kept showing up.
One morning recently, before my husband headed out the door for farm chores, he came into the kitchen to tell me what he’d just read in his daily Bible reading. Here it is: only one generation after Joshua led the Israelites into their God-given homeland, the people stopped following God.
The people of Joshua’s generation died, and the next generation did not know the LORD or any of the things he had done.
Judges 2:10 (CEV)
One generation! That was it.
The people stopped remembering. They stopped worshipping. They stopped practicing the faith. They stopped telling the next generation what God had done.
Deejay Jenny Lee is about to get her preach on:
This is our time, friends. We are the next generation. We are the ones with the duty of remembrance and the responsibility of passing down what we’ve learned about the saving grace of Jesus.
It’s on us. If we don’t do it, who will? Will we be the people who stopped remembering?
I understand that not everyone can physically be in a church right now due to the coronavirus, and I know that kingdom work isn’t limited to a building of worship. Many of us, including our family, have had meaningful moments of worship and faith growth around computer screens in 2020. So I am certainly not suggesting that we all run back to church and start hugging one another and breathing on each other. But I am suggesting that we take some time to think about what “church” and corporate worship will look like in the months and years ahead.
Social researchers predict that many church members who previously attended in-person services will not return to the physical service after the pandemic is over. Of course, people can continue to engage in meaningful ways online.
But wherever we are and however we worship, we have the duty and privilege of carrying forth the gospel. I’ll say it once more: it’s on us. We are the generation.
What if we were known as a generation who kept its eyes focused on Jesus in this time of trial?
What if we were known as a generation who did our part, so “that a people not yet created may praise the Lord” (Psalms 102:18)?
What if we were known as a generation who kept serving, kept learning, kept diligent in the faith — like our forefathers and foremothers before us?
The torch has been passed. The time is now. Let’s not go down in history as the generation who forgot it all.
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