It means different things to be “at home” these days. A home now can be an office or a school or a gym as well as a dwelling place. That makes it feel different when you are living “at home.” That’s why it is still important to have a specified space for various activities. I liked to close the door to my “office” when I was done working from home and then move to my recliner for my retreat when my workday was done.
Since church services are still very much online events, the home has become a church as well. Think about ways that you can set aside a particular place for viewing videos and live streams of worship or spaces where you as a family can gather for Bible reading and prayer.
Our homes have been much more adaptable than we thought possible, and we have become more adaptable than we might have envisioned too. For this we need to thank and praise our God. I think of this verse: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21). Even though it has been a challenge within the walls of our homes during these pandemic days, we have seen firsthand what God has been able to do in these circumstances that is beyond what we expected. People have talked about having more time to talk to one another and enjoy each other’s company. That’s God at work in our relationships. I have been doing a lot more praying than I did before. That’s God at work in my faith. I have noticed that I have become more grateful for the small things that my house affords, like a bath or a shower. That’s God at work in my outlook on life.
We might feel like homebodies these days, but maybe that is where God wants us to be somebody that lives for him in unique and inspiring ways. Wasn’t it Jesus who said, “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.” (Matthew 6:6)? That might be just what “being home” means for you right now. And that’s OK.
Preaching to Generation Z (those born from 1999 on) means you can’t preach your Grandpa’s sermon anymore. Pastor Trygve Johnson has some tips for how to connect to Gen Z from the pulpit (“Next-Gen Preaching,” CT Pastors Special Issue, Spring 2019, 35-36).
I get inside my sermon. Preachers should not be afraid to share their stories from their own lives. They should not be afraid to laugh at themselves. Generation Z seeks a preacher that is relational, that tells it like it is, that it is personal.
I offer a sense of history and place. Preachers should put sermons in context both Scripturally and in terms of the space where they are worshiping. In this digital age, Gen Zers are not as fully aware of some of the stories of the Bible as perhaps generations before have been and they may not be as connected to the meaning and history behind the surroundings in their worship space and the community that formed there. These community stories need to be told as well.
I treat people like insiders. Preachers need to help those who are listening that they are loved, cared for, valued and accepted. Gen Zers are eager to be a part of something and learn new terms and new insights. Preachers should not shy away from sharing those new and perhaps more challenging concepts.
I preach for Gen Z, not at them. Preachers should not try to make their messages trendy, hip, or all about pop culture to impress Gen Z. Preaching for Gen Z means making God the subject of the sermon, and the salvation found in Christ alone. Keeping God at the center of all that is said in sermons is what will be of most value to Gen Z. The Word of God is what they came to hear.
In many ways these principles are actually what can make preaching better for all generations.
Dr. W. Mart Thompson in his seminar “You Are a Royal Priesthood—God calls and equips Christians to serve one another,” talked about the role of vocation in our lives.
Vocation is a calling from God to serve him and others. In a Christian context there are three realms or estates of our vocation. They are: home, congregation, and society.
As part the seminar, each participant shared their vocation using these parameters. Here’s mine as an example.
A family vocation: brother, son
A congregational calling: Bible study leader
An occupational vocation: writer at Creative Communications
A community calling: member of a Tuesday night bike-riding club
It was an interesting exercise because it helped me to see where God has placed me to serve and how I might be more intentional in revealing my relationship with Christ to others and being more Christ-like in my words and deeds.
It was also interesting to listen to the vocation lists of all those in attendance and hear how God is working in so many and various ways in the lives of his people. The ways in which people volunteer and give of their time and unique skills was truly inspiring.
Consider doing this vocation exercise this week for yourself and think about how God has placed you in a certain time and place and position for a reason. Take time to ponder what those reasons are, pray about them and then act upon them as the Holy Spirit directs you.