Church & Culture
Grandma Didn't Go To Church: 9 Ways First-Generation Christians Are Making Me A Better Pastor
How do you pastor people when they're not just the only believers in their family, they’re the first Christian in generations?

First-generation Christians aren’t put off by basic theological terms as long as they’re useful to their spiritual growth and explained in simple terms

3. I get to watch the thrill of discovery

This is the upside of having to explain basic Bible stories and theology.

Many times someone will come to me after a service wide-eyed and amazed about a simple biblical principle that they’ve heard for the first time.

This is both a great joy and a great responsibility, because how I frame the Bible and our theology will set the tone for how they think, believe and behave. I don’t take that responsibility lightly.

4. They understand very little about how church is done

So much of our church experience is filled with unwritten rules.

So much of our church experience is filled with unwritten rules.

Where to sit, when to stand, how to pray, what to wear.

We’ve taken them for granted. But we can’t any more.

Now, we need to know why we do what we do, because someone might ask us to explain it. Not out of criticism, but from simple ignorance. And if we can’t answer them simply and clearly, well… maybe we don’t need to do it that way, after all.

5. There are fewer arguments about the way church should be done

I can’t remember the last time someone said “we’ve never done it that way before!” because so many in our church have never done church any way before.

It’s such a relief!

With first-generation Christians there are a lot more questions, but far fewer arguments. If we take their questions seriously, that is.

6. I’ve expanded my base of sermon illustrations

If I tell a story about John Wesley or Martin Luther to illustrate a point, I’ll be met with blank stares.

But if I quote Yoda from Star Wars, they’re with me.

That’s okay. Jesus and Paul did the same thing when sharing the gospel to newbies.

In addition to Sabbath and temple illustrations, Jesus referenced non-religious activities like farming, fishing and sweeping the house. And Paul quoted pagan poets on at least three occasions (Acts 17:28, 1 Cor 15:33, Titus 1:12).

By the way, it’s not that I don’t use illustrations from Christian history. It’s part of discipleship, as we saw in Point 2. But I never do more than one per sermon (another term I seldom use), and I always take the time to explain who they were and why they matter. Time well spent.

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May 16, 2017 at 2:04 AM

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