Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Doing Life Together: The Beauty of Multi-Generational Community

A while back, the Sisters of Strength invited me to "do life" with them. They're a crazy-in-love-with-Jesus bunch of women who are completely serious about living a deep faith. I didn't know all of them personally at the time, but I could see the lives they live, and I readily joined in. Well, I'm really "in" from a distance, but they've loved me and prayed for me through every bit of ministry I've done these last eight months.

I couldn't do a thing without the Sisters and people like them who pray me through.

Last night, I finally attended a meeting. I took our Global intern, Anna Grace, along. It was a rowdy time, filled with laughter and sharing and food and a few tears. 

As we were driving home, Anna Grace said, "I wish I had that."

"Wish you had what?"

"What those ladies have."

"What those ladies have was hard won, Anna Grace. Every one of those ladies has been through tough times. They know they've been forgiven much, so they love much." 

"Yeah. I can see that. But they've got multi-generational community, too, and I want that. I was as welcome around the table as anyone else."

Anna Grace was right. The Sisters of Strength made a decision a good while back to commit to community and that's the key. They "do life together," and they're serious about it. They meet every week (mostly) for prayer, Bible study, and a meal together.

Along the way, they've shared good times and bad and helped each other through everything they've faced. They've held each other accountable. They call each other out when they speak wrongly. They forgive quick and love hard.

They're a formidable force for Christ because they work together. 

Remember the personal care packs for homeless people I wrote about a few days ago? The Sisters of Strength were doing them long before me. "How many did we do that last time?" someone asked. "Oh, about 365, I think," someone responded. 

They accomplish a LOT because they work together to get it done. 

Last week, a group of young women in my church approached me. "Miss Leanna, the Bible says the younger women are supposed to learn from the older women."

"Yes, it does. I know that verse." 

"We realized at small group that we need to learn to pray better, and you know how. Will you teach us?"

Of course I will. One of the young women had a need, so we all met at the altar Sunday morning to pray. I'll meet with them at their weekly meeting in a few days. 

Those young ladies are doing what the Sisters are doing. They've made a decision to do what the Bible says, and they're sticking to it. They study together, pray for each other, bear each other's burdens, hold each other accountable. 

It requires dedication and commitment, but it's worth it.

They've invited me to be a little part of their group for a time, and just like that, they've accomplished multi-generational community.

We were never meant to live life in isolation. We were created for community. Join in or stand back. The choice is ours to make.

We can surround ourselves with people who look, dress, and live just like us, but that group isn't likely to challenge us to change. 

Look at the disciples. They were a disparate band of irregulars, with wealthy tax collectors living and working alongside fishermen. Some were old. Some were young. It was multi-generational community at its best.

We need the enthusiasm of youth. We need the wisdom of age. We need the bond of commitment and the accountability of consistent contact with people who challenge us to grow and learn and become more than we are. More like Jesus. 

What about you? Do you have multi-generational community? I'm not talking about the people on the pews at church on Sunday morning. I'm referring to the people who hold you accountable for your words and actions. The ones who laugh with you, cry with you, pray with you. If not, why not? What's holding you back?

Let's reach outside our comfort zone to include a few people who will help us become more like Jesus than we are on our own. 

"Bear one another's burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ." Gal 6:2 nasb

"But if, however, you are fulfilling the royal law, according to the Scripture, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself,' you are doing well." James 2:8 nasb
ps - I said I was going to write about millennials in the church today, but I'm saving that for another day. I'll get to it. 

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