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?

7. Sins “everyone” used to know are no longer assumed

There are so many polls lately bemoaning the fact that, not only is biblical literacy dropping, but a clear understanding of biblical morality is on the decline. Even from regular churchgoers.

Both of those are reason for serious concern, of course.

But if we were to survey my congregation and compare it to a decade ago, our biblical and moral literacy would probably seem to have fallen, too. Not because I’m not teaching biblical theology and morality, but because we have so many brand-new, first-generation believers now, compared to a decade ago.

It’s one thing to preach about sin to a multi-generational congregation, because if they’re sinning they’re probably deliberately defying what they know to be right.

But preaching about sin to first-generation believers is different. Many times they truly don’t even know something is a sin, so we have to take that into account. We have to teach the "why" before they’ll understand – or care – about the "why not".

We have to teach the "why" before they’ll understand – or care – about the "why not".

That usually means less condemning, more explaining – and massive amounts of grace. Not a bad formula for any sermon, actually.

8. Money

Multi-generational Christians had a certain understanding about regular giving to the church.

First-generation Christians have to be taught from scratch. But, as with previous points, this is also an opportunity to teach them right.

But it isn’t fast or easy. Even when they start to give, they’re likely to want to see where their hard-earned money is going, and they often want to participate in getting it there by doing hands-on ministry.

The good news? They’re more likely to want to do ministry with us, instead of paying us to do ministry for them.

The bad news? Most of our church structures are set up for the latter.

9. Trust must be earned

People used to trust pastors until they were given a reason not to.

Unfortunately, over the last couple of generations we’ve given them lots of very public reasons not to.

Now, they don’t trust us until we give them plenty of reasons to do so. Trust has to be earned. And it doesn’t come easily.

But it will come. If we do one thing, and do it consistently.

Live what we preach.

Now, more than ever, integrity matters.

According to the old saying, your life may be the only sermon some people will hear. Now, for first-generation believers, your next sermon might literally be the first one they’ve ever heard. And it will set the pace for everything that follows for life and belief.

Let’s speak it well. And live it with integrity.

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May 16, 2017 at 2:04 AM

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