The opening paragraph of my previous And in Closing “Although I served as a pastor for 46 years, I think I learned more about teaching, preaching and church in my 60’s than any other decade. Below are three things I learned to think differently about during this season of my life.”
Let’s continue the thought.
Christians grow best in their faith in community. After a few years of preaching, I realized that while good singing and preaching could draw a crowd, they alone were limited in helping people to grow. Preaching, singing, plus small groups helped people to grow spiritually. As a result, I told folks that they had not really joined the church until they joined a Sunday School class. But in my 60’s I learned it was not the small group that fostered the spiritual growth, but the sense of community within the group. If the Bible was taught and intentional Christian community developed in the group, the members grew spiritually. If the Bible was not taught and if there was no real sense of Christian community, these groups were as useful to the work of the Kingdom as the legislature is to the state of Alabama. Community is not accidental but is very intentional. Community occurs when the members of a group have (1) specific responsibilities, (2.) accountability to others and (3) the awareness that someone in the group is interested in their well-being. Just showing up and shutting up while someone tells you what they think about the Bible is not community. Yes, we absolutely need Bible study, but community requires application of the Bible within the group and not just by the group.
Labels are temporary. Take for example the label we give to the classes and groups that meet on Sunday morning prior to worship. I have heard them called and I have called these meetings “Sunday School classes, Sunday morning Bible Study classes and Life groups.” The label didn’t really make a difference. If the Bible was taught and intentional Christian community developed in the group, these groups effectively helped the participants to grow spiritually. Labels are temporary handles in any area of the church life, Contemporary, traditional, modern, blended mean different things to not only different generations but also to different people within each generation.
Your best stage of life is the season of life that you are learning the most. A friend in his late 70’s taught me this soon after I turned 70 In a conversation he told me the reason most people considered their childhood or young adult years as their favorite stage of life is because that was when they learned the most. He determined he was going to keep learning at every stage. As a result, he said his best stage of life was from 75 on. He was learning about serving family members who were ill, he was learning to stay healthy in mind and body as an aging adult and how to connect with and communicate to employees who were 60 years younger than he was. He convinced me and I am intentionally trying to learn every day and I really believe this is my very best season of life.
I may revisit this theme later.
Your interim and learning pastor,