Have you ever heard the cry for help coming from the people behind you on Sunday morning? The next time you walk into church, listen for it. Or is it you?
I will describe this cry for those who have not heard it. It usually consists of questions:
Who am I? (what is my identity?)
Where am I going? (what purpose does my life have?)
Notice it does not sound like anyone is questioning the elders or even the church. It sounds more like people are asking the right questions about what it means to be a Christian.
The problem is…people are not asking these questions out loud. Everyone is silent.
Yes, I did.
But now I’m saying the young people are silent?
Yes, I am.
That doesn’t make sense.
No, it doesn’t.
What am I saying then?
I’m saying that no one is communicating. Some try, but stop or give up.
Why am I talking to myself?
See what I mean, we only talk to ourselves. We need to be talking to God and others.
Let’s make some observations.
The Older People are Silent. The Young People are Silent Too. Why?
Praise the Lord the young people are praying out loud! Hallelujah praise Jesus! Desires are pure, and the Holy Spirit is working! We covered that before.
However, a lot of the young people are silent at church. They are not in a position of authority and do not feel they have the platform to ask questions. Besides, there is a LOT of respect going around. People don’t want to ask questions if it seems obvious that the older ones don’t’ have them. Everything must be alright. Right?
I mentioned the problem is people are not asking these questions out loud. Everyone is silent. If people are not asking these questions out loud, could this be why the elders are silent? The elders either think everyone has found the answers, or that they are not important questions to the younger ones. But people are asking them in their hearts. Why are the people not asking these questions out loud? Are they afraid? Have they been told their questions are bad, rebellious, or even obvious? What do we really think of each other?
A lot of the young people do not know the older people. They hear sermons and listen to the results of the official board meeting, but they don’t know them personally. I feel like “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.” But that is not the root — that is only the surface. Why is there a sense of tension between generations? Why do young people feel a need to change things? Why do older people feel the need to hang onto the way it is? What is happening here?
Sometimes a change is suggested that seems perfectly good. It makes sense. It lines up with principles we see in the Bible. But, it feels like such a strain even to get people to think about it for a minute. When an idea is presented, we could look at it with the minds of Christ and pray. But our minds are locked.
We don’t want to offend anyone. We don’t have time to make a change. We will wait it out till people die. Oh well. It’s not important.
How many of those thoughts are from the Holy Spirit with the mind of Christ? How many are from the evil spirits of Satan and the mind of flesh?
We could look at each other and debate this or that all week. But there are deep issues that are driving what we see, no matter what perspective you are coming from.
Let’s walk through some prayers together.
I have wounds from sermons I heard at church.
“God, what messages do you have for me on Sunday at church? I have felt yelled at in the past. I didn’t feel love. I remember preachers of the past preaching fire and brimstone on so many issues, and my heart wanted to respond, but I needed to be loved. Now my heart is locked. I can’t view preachers and older people with the right attitude. There is a wall that separates me from them, and I shy away because I don’t want to feel any more pain. God, I know you love me. I know I need to hear the truth in love. I know that you are calling me to forgive. I know this is a big deal in my life, and I want to be free from it. I give this hurt to you, and I claim the freedom you are offering me.”
I have wounds from dad.
“God, what are you like as a father? My father has hurt me. He doesn’t talk, and I wonder what he thinks of me. We grew up working hard, and that’s all I knew. I had to be affirmed. I still need affirmation from my church position, from my job, from my wife. God, I need a father. I need to get past the walls that my dad has put up in my heart and face you for the love you have. I know this is keeping a spiritual wall between you and me. I can’t love. I can’t understand love. Help me God. I lay down the walls that are around my heart, and I invite your fatherly love to fill my life.”
I have fear from changes that were made in the past at church.
“God, what is Your church? What do you want me to do with my fears from the past? Should I be carrying them? I see you now, your face with tears asking me to give them to You. I have no business carrying the pain and fear. I don’t know what freedom from this is like. God, give me freedom. I lay down my fears of wrong change and wounds from the change that was bad, and I give them to you Jesus. Give me a mind that thinks like You, with Your wisdom and understanding as things are suggested. Help me to see the hearts of those asking for change and not draw conclusions. I know I have always just wanted to do what I thought was right, but Lord, show me what you want. I rest in you. I put the power back into our hands because you are worthy and you know what you are doing with Your church.”
I have wounds from people rebelling at church.
“I have been hurt by the rebellion at my church. I wanted to see them serve God, but they left, and it hurts. I feel some guilt for those who have given up Christianity. I have always wondered if it was partially my fault. I knew in my heart they were not rebelling against You, but against us. God, I’ve tried to bury it! What do You want me to do with the guilt and shame I carry? I confess my weakness, my lack of devotion to you, my casual attitude toward life as a Christian. I lay it down. It is no longer my wound and no longer my shame. I claim your Holy Spirit that I may go forth in your presence ever serving you. Help me to testify and be a friend to the people in my family and church.”
I have shame from not leading my family.
“God, what do you say about marriage? What do you say about raising children? This is not what I expected life as a spouse, parent, and grandparent to be like. My wife and I seem to have a wall between us. Some of my children have left the church and left You. I’m grieved, and it hurts, and I have pain that I never let out. I don’t know how to relate to my wife. I don’t know how to talk to my children. I have messed it all up, and I don’t know what to do. This is the first time I’ve fallen to my knees and wept like this. God, I cry out to you to help me. I lay my past, my mistakes, my busy life, my distractions, at the foot of the cross. Take them, Lord; they are not mine to carry anymore. Help me to repent, and to use your strength and guidance to work towards restoration. I love you, God.”
I have shame for preaching anger.
“I have preached the truth without love. People don’t hear what I say because they only hear anger. They only hear negative. They don’t connect with me because my heart has not been in the right place. I know you want to work in my heart. I hear your voice, but I keep doing it. Lord, help me to surrender my position and my reputation for the sake of your kingdom. I lay down my pride, and I seek your face. I want to love your people. I want to help them.”
I have wounds from gossip at church.
“God, what do you say about your people? I am in deep pain. I want to stand up and shout out testimonies of Your goodness, but I am afraid. I have been open before, and people talk. People look at me instead of you. I have wounds from people that are bleeding out, and I pull back at anyone who tries to help. I can’t associate or go into a deep conversation with people anymore. I worry so much about what other people think. It is keeping me from my church. I want us to love each other and dwell together in fellowship with you. I need your healing, God. I know you want to touch me and heal my wounds. I don’t want to pull away anymore. Reach into my heart and heal me. I allow You permission.”
I have something alarming to ask you. Could you share the prayer that the Lord is giving you right now in the comments below? Don’t post anything else. Just pray.
Some things about these blog posts and my heart…
- I have to smile. I see people thinking about things that have been said for the first time out loud (on the internet), and I rejoice. The previous post has stirred a lot of thoughts. Little did you know that I had a follow-up planned for later. I decided it may be best to share it now.
- This is a blog. I wouldn’t write here if I didn’t have a burden on my heart. I don’t just do it to keep a following or get attention.
- We all come to this stuff from different perspectives, with different burdens, with different passions, and with various ideas.
- I get ideas for posts from God. I pray as I write. I pray before I post.
- I try my best to read and re-read and re-read until I take out any hints of negativity. I made myself a rule that I need to be ALWAYS positive. Sometimes, though, a sad part needs to be shared that contrasts the good. That’s just how it is, and I won’t sugar coat it.
- I honestly do not want to cause discouragement, confusion, or raise a mess. I see many things online that are very positive, but comment sections go way off on something. Often I see my posts taken out of context, and that hurts.
- Please see my heart. I have been drawing very close to God the past two years, and I need to so much more! I just ask that you take this journey with me to seek the face of God.
- Thank you for the encouraging feedback I’ve been getting. I see a lot a lot of people seeking God right now. It’s AWESOME to see!
I want to know God and make him known. If I can do that with a group of families, I will. I love fellowship. I love the people of God we call a church. If I can do something to bring others through some of the things I am learning and seeing, then I will do it with the intentions of bringing freedom. Someone told me to stick around. I replied, “I will! I love the people; that’s why I do what I do.” When I was 12, I saw an angel. I started writing sermons about revival. God put a burden on me. God was calling me to my people. I have goosebumps now as I’m telling you this. I love you. As tears come to my eyes, I want you to join me in my burden and see what it’s all about. I don’t know what God has planned, but I know I need to answer the call. If I come across wrong, I sincerely apologize. Talk to me about it. Pray with me. Let’s go deeper with God. I have said enough about what I see on the surface. I am crying now…we need to figure out what is wrong, once and for all. My heart is so burdened. I don’t know why. But I think it’s time to talk. I’m finally ready. I believe that you are ready.