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Archives for June, 2017

There is a huge gap in many churches between the youth group and the rest of the church. Some have said most churches have two or three churches meeting under their roof on Sunday, as different demographics and age groups often spend their time and have ministry focused exclusive to their needs.

One of the things that has happened, really on accident and from lack of awareness and intentionality more than anything, is that the youth are expected to build a bridge for themselves into the congregation. We build a little island for them off the mainland where they can be with people their age and when it comes time to graduate, if we are generous, we hand them the nails and boards and expect them to build a bridge back to us. There is often little intergenerational connection made before they graduate so that their transition to “big church” goes more smoothly. Instead, we just expect them to make the leap with little to no assistance from those they are merging into.

I suggest that we begin to consider how the older generation can intentionally reach out to those younger than themselves before crucial transition periods. I believe this is the responsibility of the older to the younger, not the other way around and that too often we have gotten this backwards just expecting them to jump right in. Ministry should be done (seniors, youth, etc) with these connection points in mind, planning some events purposefully as intergenerational events. That is a start.

Part of our issue is that the older generations often don’t think the younger want to connect. I don’t believe that is the case. I think they want to I just don’t think they know how and often can’t make the uncomfortable leap intentionally connecting with people 20-50 years older than themselves. But the older generations are capable. They just need to be encouraged to try. Ministries need to cross-pollinate the generations in their activities, fellowship and mission.

If anyone is going to build the bridge it is the person who has the nails and the boards and that is the older generations not the younger. Ideally, though the older would hand some material to the younger and work on it from both ends to meet in the middle. That is what intergenerational ministry does. Let us encourage each other and by each other I don’t just mean people of the same age in the same stage…I mean everyone else in the church regardless of age, race, etc. The burden is on the mature. To miss this one is to miss a generation. We see it happening already and it won’t get better unless we change the way we see each other and the way we see our ministries.

On June 15, we lost a spiritual giant, our brother Jay Guin. Many of you have benefited from Jay’s writing over the years. Jay helped many people navigate the difficult road from legalism to a healthier acknowledgement of grace and the Holy Spirit. Jay’s blog was most likely the most read blog within Churches of Christ at the time of his passing and will continue to be a resource for Christians for years to come. We honor his life. We appreciate the time and energy he poured into his writing and teaching. Jay will be truly missed. My prayer has been that God has already been at work raising up 50-100 to replace him in the years to come, much due to his influence and teaching. Our prayers continue to go out to his family.

Here is Jay’s obituary,

TUSCALOOSA – Jay F. Guin, age 63, of Tuscaloosa, passed away on June 12, 2017, at Hospice of West Alabama. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m., today, June 15, 2017 at Tuscaloosa Memorial Chapel with Buddy Jones officiating. The family received guests on Wednesday, June 14, 2017, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the funeral home. A private family internment will take place in Tuscaloosa Memorial Park with Tuscaloosa Memorial Chapel Funeral Home directing.
He was preceded in death by his father, J. Foy Guin, Jr. and mother-in-law, Velma Shirley Hendrix.
Survivors include his wife, Denise Hendrix Guin; sons, Christopher Guin, Jonathan Guin (Erin), Tyler Guin (Tara) and Philip Guin; mother, Dorace Caldwell Guin; sisters, Jan Smith (Tommy) and Judy Mullican (Jim); brother, David Guin (April); and grandchildren, Daniel Guin and Rachel Guin.
Jay grew up in Russellville, Ala., a hotbed of legal talent for its small stature and size.
Jay’s grandfather and father were both brilliant lawyers in their own right, having practiced together in Russellville for a time, so naturally Jay decided to be a math teacher.
After bringing tennis to Russellville when his family built the only full-sized court in the town in his backyard, he moved on to David Lipscomb College. There, he further developed his love of math, graduating with a mathematics degree which saw almost no use over the years outside of his teaching at the University Church of Christ apologetics classes. He met Denise at Lipscomb, and one year later got married.
After putting his brilliant mathematical mind to work, he realized math teachers made less money than lawyers, and so followed in the family tradition to become a lawyer. Thus, he entered into and graduated from the University of Alabama School of Law in 1978, second in his class (although he was first until the last semester, which he only mentioned about 1,000 times). Shortly thereafter, and at great insistence from no one in particular, he started his own law firm with his good friend and mentor, Bob Tanner.
Jay loved few things more than practicing law, which is why he told his children never to be lawyers, which only three of his children listened to, much to his regret.
Outside of work, Jay worked tirelessly as a progressive Church of Christ theologian and teacher, greatly transforming many churches and lives through his work. No doubt he will be well remembered by countless Christians who owe a small or large part of their faith to his work. This work consumed his time and thoughts, and the world is lucky to have all of it recorded on his blog, which will be a lasting testament to him.
Also, he raised four nit-picking, hypercritical children, three of whom contributed, in their own unique ways to this poorly thought-out obituary. Please find and thank the one who had the good sense and maturity to stay out of it.
Honorary pallbearers are the employees of the law firm of Campbell Guin and members of the University Church of Christ

One of the most popular ministry strategies of the last 60 years has been to segregate people in the congregation by age. There are a number of principles and advantages embedded in that approach that must be recognized and this post is in no way criticizing that way of doing things. First, that approach recognizes the natural tendency of people to befriend people in their same age/stage of life. Second, it is relatively easy for newcomers to show up and figure out where they “fit.” Third, you can cater curriculum and topics to a more narrow range of issues.

We have invested mightily into this approach and for good reason, it works for some things but not for everything. It has its limitations. This isn’t a problem unless it is the exclusive approach and little thought is given to how the congregation will foster inter-generational connection.

What we need is not age-segretation OR age-integration. We need to make room for both. Both are important. Both have value. But we don’t need to choose one or the other. We should embrace both. I remember being in grad-school sitting in a college class tackling all sorts of issues in life and in the scriptures when it dawned on me – none of us know what we are talking about on this issue! We need someone with more experience and knowledge to be present with us and help us understand from a more mature vantage point on life and the Bible.

If you have age-segregated ministries don’t ditch them. Instead, challenge them to plan several events per year that connect with other age groups. Have the teens host a Valentine’s dinner for the elderly. Have the Seniors ministry have a game night with the teens. Plan intergenerational service projects that the whole church can pitch in and make sure those who work together aren’t just the same groups getting together again.

The Bible teaches us a lot about the value of the generations and how they learn from and need each other (that will be covered in the next post). The church is not made up of one generation but of many and the body is at its peak performance when every part is doing its work in a coordinated and interconnected/mutually beneficial way, together.

Was because decades ago and beyond Western culture was “churched.” People were familiar with Jesus and world religions were just that – out in the rest of the world. Our Western religious homogeneity had us taking faith three steps ahead because we agreed on Jesus with those we were trying to convert. What we disagreed on was “church” doctrine and practice. 

Jesus gives us a line or two on “ekklesia” or church, first in talking about it when he said upon this rock I will build my church and second in Matthew 18 on reconciliation among believers. That is all Jesus had to say directly on church. 

So our evangelism skipped Jesus to get to the man who instructs us on church (Paul) and the book that describes the activity of the first Christians (Acts).

Now we live in a world of unchurched, dechurched, nones and agnostics. You don’t bring them to Jesus through Paul. You bring them to Jesus through Jesus and use Paul for support.

It has always been Jesus first, church second but the Jesus part used to be presupposed. As we reach out to people we must expose them to the whole of inspired scripture and especially (at first) the gospels. 

The world has changed and it pays to pay attention and adjust accordingly.

Jay’s family updated on Facebook today that Jay’s recent health problems have had a serious setback. He has gone into hospice care and is not expected to make it. Please keep Jay and his family in your prayers. Jay has been such a resource and encouragement to so many of us. I praise God for his life and am so thankful for his work in the kingdom. There is so much more I would like to say. For now, I just want to update everyone here at Wineskins on what is going on with Jay and ask for your prayers.

One of the most popular ministry trends of the last fifty years has been ministries segregated by age. In many ways I am a fan of giving people their “spot” where they fit in and feel at home among their peers. At the same time this can become such an exclusive approach to ministry that the generations develop hard lines between them that are rarely if ever crossed.

This is problematic from many perspectives. It is problematic educationally, psychologically, socially, and even biblically. Each and every one of us needs a diversity of connections while still maintaining close peer relationships and interactions.

I remember the first time this ever crossed my mind. I was in graduate school, in a class full of 18-22 year olds as the campus ministry was the group and class closest to my age. After listening to a Bible class discussion one Sunday morning it hit me – none of us know what we are talking about and there isn’t anyone here with enough experience to help us out!

The generations need each other.

Let’s discuss ways we can better coordinate crossing generational lines and embracing biblical principles that span both testaments and were the bread and butter of congregations at the height of our historical growth.

I am looking forward to the conversation! Let us know what you or your church is doing to bridge the generations.

Note from Matt: There have been some truly ambitious and much needed books written over the last year. We hope this post familiarizes you with some of the best content out there and highlights ACU Press’ & Summit’s role in providing quality content. Thanks to Alyssa Johnson for catching us up on what is out there!

ACU Summit 2017 is happy to partner with ACU Press, Leafwood Publishers, to bring recently published authors to speak about their books. At ACU Summit 2017, you can attend a session based on your favorite new book and even purchase the book after hearing the author speak.

Authors Cathy Massecar and Deanna Koehl will present Winning Every Woman’s War: Defeating Temptations, a book that equips women with tools to identify and overcome common but subtle temptations like fear, disrespect, manipulation, and comparison. Julia Mateer’s book, Life-Giving Leadership: A Woman’s Toolbox for Leading, strives to help redefine women’s ministry and equip women who are actively involved in leadership. Dudley Chancey and Ron Bruner’s class, building upon themes drawn from their book, Owning Faith: Reimagining the Role of Church & Family, examines the ways older disciples can honor and nurture life-changing relationships of faith with today’s adolescents. These classes can help those involved in women’s ministry and those working with young people.

Phil Lewis and John Harrison look at leadership in Longevity in Leadership: Essential Qualities of Longtime Leaders. Their book is aimed to encourage leaders and prospective leaders to stay the course and lead effectively in the long run. Monte Cox looks at world religions in Significant Others: Understanding our Non-Christian Neighbors. Cox walks readers through different, non-Christian perspectives to show Christians ways to engage with their non-Christian neighbors. Josh Ross, one of this year’s theme speakers, will be sharing ideas from Re-entry: How Pain, Roots, and Rhythm Guide Us from Darkness to Light. His new book examines the ways in which re-entry into the kingdom is just as important as entry. Josh is the only author who will offer a formal book signing, which will be held immediately after his class. Don McLaughlin’s new book, Love First: Ending Hate Before It’s Too Late, will present an understandable, practical, and doable approach to loving others with such clarity and conviction that the world will truly know the God who loves us first. No matter your interests, ACU Press has an author and a book that can spark thoughts and action in your life.

Leafwood Publishers will be selling copies of these books in the Bible building. For a full and detailed listing of authors and books that will be featured, click here. Come by and take something home with you to read!