It was a grand affair with two families coming together for the union of two dedicated Christians starting out to create a family on mission for the Gospel.
While there, I started thinking about the way families do things. The two primary times you will see extended families gather for any length of time are at family reunions and weddings. It’s interesting to contrast the two events.
At a family reunion, the older members are the center of attention. There are special seats for the grandparents, aunts, and uncles, while the grandchildren and cousins are banished to the other rooms with the only instruction of not bothering the adults. The stories are all about “back then” and “remember when.”
The very same people come to the family weddings. But at the weddings, the older folks are in the background and the younger generation takes the spot light. The once banished cousins are the bridesmaids and groomsmen and the older family members are only called on for the one huge family portrait taken after the ceremony. The focus is not on “back then” but very much on the future encapsulated by the couple embarking on a new journey.
Healthy families have a sense of both. They never want to lose the stories of their history but they sure don’t want to stop having any weddings – because the weddings ensure their family has a future.
What about your church? Does it feel more like one or the other? The truth is, healthy churches have a strong awareness of the past – they understand where they have come from and love to tell and re-tell all that God has done over the years. About twice a year, my pastor tells the story of how our church came to be and the small group of folks that risked their personal finances to start the ministry 40 years ago.
But churches should also be intentional about family weddings – those moments when the younger generations are at the center of what the family is doing and taking the lead in new directions of ministry. If we don’t engage the next generation of leaders now, while we can, we will lose any opportunity we could have to help them develop the future.
If our churches only have reunions, they will die with us. And if we only have weddings, we will lose the core identity of the family values in only one generation.
Churches need both. And families do too.
Mike Harland is the Director of LifeWay Worship. When he’s not directing 30+ employees, you’ll find him leading worship at various churches around the country, writing/arranging worship songs and/or, writing his next book. In his spare time, he loves playing basketball and spending time with his family. Mike can be found on Twitter @MikeHarlandLW and on facebook.com/Mike.Harland.37.