Ian led today’s service, ably supported by Jonny, who turned up at the wheel, getting a quick lesson off time. We had some fun worship songs today including one of our current favourites, My Lighthouse. Judith brought us the word today but sadly I missed it as I was called out to assist Mark in dealing with the fact that someone had tried to set our gent’s toilets alight.
Fortunately the cardboard and lighter used hadn’t set anything else alight and there was no damage to church and no injuries. Incidents like this do highlight the need for us to all be vigilant. Hopefully I’ll be able to gather some thoughts from others from Judith’s sermon from today. Meanwhile I thought it might help to share some thoughts around today’s incident. Attempted arson is no laughing matter and we did report what happened to the police. We will be fitting some internal CCTV cameras to try to prevent any repeat of this.
It did however lead me to ponder on the reasons behind it. I’m currently reading Mend the Gap by Jason Gardener which looks at the practical difficulties of bridging the proverbial generation gap. Church by it’s very nature is committed to family values and trying to build and keep a sense of unity amongst diverse congregations.
Mend the Gap poses the question “Why do young people commit crime?” and one young person replied “Kids commit crime because there’s no sense of community any more!” The challenge for the church is of course how we deal with this. We now live in a time where old community traditions and values appear to have been eroded without anything to put in its place. I agreed with Jason Gardener that churches should not be backward looking. What they should be doing is acting as a community in their own right with their own traditions and values. Ministering to young people is fraught with problems. Look at the New Testament and seek out the youth ministry received by Jesus. You’ll find it in Luke’s evidence driven gospel. It states Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favour with God and Man. That’s a tall order for anyone involved in trying to bridge the generation gap.
It’s even more challenging at the point in time we find ourselves at. Communities are established through their shared stories and generationally our stories are now coming from very difference sources. Word of mouth and written records are replaced by social media channels. How many of us know what the latest Youtuber is saying, who’s got the most popular vlog? Young people now, more than ever, are relying on peer advice derived from these social media channels. Church I think needs to be part of a young person’s idea of family. Mend the Gap leads to the conclusion that church needs to be intergenerational, young and old together with sons and daughters prophesying, young seeing visons and old dreaming dreams.
Young people buy into the myth of rebelling against adult society. Hopefully today’s incident was just that. We will continue here at West View Baptist Church to build our caring worshipping community reaching out through Filling Station and our other missional work. All of us have to be church youth workers and try and offer friendship, family and new traditions.