“To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: ‘We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’” (Matthew 11:16-17, NIV)
I have a friend who, after years of growing up in the church and attending a Christian-based University, stepped out of the church. After a hard time in life, he wandered back in and got really involved. He attended mission trips with me and has grown into one of my closer friends. Though his skepticism of organized religion and healthy cynicism has created an “on again/off again” relationship, he still keeps one foot in the church and likes to poke me when the church is in the news.
He recently sent me a video that has gone viral among the younger generation explaining why this emerging generation is less inclined to attend a local church. Many of the reasons offered in the video are not much different than the excuses we have heard for decades around church scandals, political involvement, exclusionary policies or behaviors, or just no longer culturally relevant. But one of the voices on the video expressed an angry tone that church is a “scam” because we expect people to volunteer in order to function. I believe the voice in the video calls it the “greatest scam in history.” I mean of all the reasons to criticize the church or even call something a scam in the church, recruiting and depending on volunteers would be the last thing I would ever question. Using that argument, then I guess any civic organization, youth sports league, parent/school association, community chorus/band/theater, mentoring or coaching program would be a “scam”.
Let’s just nip this in the bud. Volunteering is the heartbeat of our human connection. Volunteering reveals a desire to be in the life of a child learning and developing skills. Volunteers create mentoring relationships for a young person seeking to hone their talents. Volunteering helps your voice to be heard for social change whether it be the construction of a community playground or leading a patriotic event at the town square that honors a veteran or celebrates a historic event. Volunteers stand in the streets directing traffic after chaos causing accidents. Volunteers prepare sports fields and build theater sets that free others to play and act and dance.
I guess we can wait to be paid before we step out of the house but that would create a very expensive life change for everyone (you think inflation is bad now) because volunteers do help minimize expenses for not just parents, but whole communities. And yet, if we only step into the world expecting to be paid, it also sets up the potential for a lonely existence. Yes, our work relationships are wonderful and could be life-changing, but the people we meet when we serve side by side are the fulfilling moments that make for abundant living and a wealth without measure. Serving out of passion instead of paycheck or lending a hand out of gratitude instead of guilt will always be that which changes the world and builds up the Kingdom of God right here among us.
Jesus’ words in Matthew’s Gospel feels like an exasperation with the next generation. Funny thing is, the mantra “Kids these days” has been uttered by nearly every generation. Yes, you may be saying it today, but someone once said that about you too! I remember hearing as a youth that we (Gen X) were the “me generation” that would struggle to understand the value of community. And yet, I just happened upon an article written this year about the Millennials. And guess what? In the 1970’s a cultural war led one writer to call the Boomers the “me generation.” So which is it? Boomers? Gen X? Millennials? Or perhaps it is just a stage in life that we all struggle with? The longer we live and the more we experience has a way of shaping us in ways where we begin to see the value of our relationships and the people not just who are our peers, but how we want to share with a younger generation in mentoring/coaching relationships. You know, volunteering your time and sharing your experiences to build for a better world.
I have been fortunate to serve in ministry, doing what I love, serving side by side with you for 25 years…and yes, I get a paycheck. But not everything I do is covered by a salary. And that is true for all of us in vocations we love, but the church offers that next step to grow in our service and love. For 7 years here at Coal City, one of my most important jobs is to make the coffee for Sunday mornings. Yes, people will tell me if it is too strong or too weak…and yes, we can have church without coffee (though some may argue!). But every small thing we do isn’t just for pay, for recognition, for honor… but just because someone else will benefit and grow. Someone is going to have to take that over this summer when I move…and no, you won’t get paid for it. But as it is with volunteering…it will go a long way to celebrating human connection and building relationships one Sunday at a time.
May we embrace that the work we do for and with one another has a lasting impact. May we believe that our life experiences grow opportunities for others. May we continue to find ways to offer our talents, gifts, and lives so that another generation will experience the greatness of our human connection.
8:00am - Worship Service
9:15am - Sunday School For All Ages
10:30am - Worship Service
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The Coal City United Methodist Church is a multi-generational church family that welcomes children, seniors, and those in between to exciting worship, study, and fellowship experiences.
Some have been members of the Coal City community and the United Methodist Church their whole lives. Others have recently moved to our area and found a home among us. All are welcome.
From the children's moment where the children of our church hear a message in a language they can understand; to carefully crafted biblically based sermons that speak to our current reality as youth and adults; to a variety of high-caliber musical expressions of our faith from classical to contemporary, from organ to oboe, from piano to projected multi-media experiences, there is a place for you in worship. Our services are on the traditional side of blended - familiar, comfortable, but far from stuffy.
All are welcome here.
With choices from Bible studies, to women's groups, children's choir and more - there are so many ways to be an active part of the CCUMC community.
The mission of the Coal City United Methodist Church is to be a sanctuary where prayer, worship, acts of mercy and study of scripture
empower persons to live as disciples of Jesus Christ.
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