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Daily Encouragement - January 20

Luke 18:15-17 Common English Bible - Daily Lectionary Gospel Reading

People were bringing babies to Jesus so that he would bless them. When the disciples saw this, they scolded them. Then Jesus called them to him and said, “Allow the children to come to me. Don’t forbid them, because God’s kingdom belongs to people like these children. I assure you that whoever doesn’t welcome God’s kingdom like a child will never enter it.

I’ve been reading about the unfortunate decline of the connection with the Church and Generation Z for about 15 years now. It’s been a concern for me since before I began in ministry. It’s a reason I sought to serve Centenary and take a step in a different direction than what I’d previously done in ministry. You’ve heard me say that not only are the children the future, they are very much the now of the church. Our Children and Youth ministries at Centenary are a vital part of our ministry and we are blessed that they are so well supported. We love our children, and that’s why we want to continue to see our ministry grow, expand and flourish, God willing.

Gen Z - or ‘Zoomers’ are the most diverse group in American history.

Some of the major reasons given in a recent nationwide study for their decline in faith institutions include:

-the problem of evil in the world as a barrier to faith 29%

-Christians are hypocrites 23%

-There are too many injustices in Christian history 15%

-I used to go to church, but it’s not important to me anymore 12%

I’m beginning to see some of the other research prove true in my own family. The research suggests that these young people are very career and success driven. Jen and I have 5 children between the two of us in this group. I have a nephew and a niece. I have two adopted sisters in this age group. I see that desire for success in all 9 of these special young people in my lives. All of them have exposure to church and faith. Some of that group identifies as Christian. Some do not.

Much of the research points to finding ways to help show the places where career and life goals and the ways of faith can intersect. What if we could help find ways to expose our young friends that we know ways that they can engage in ‘vocational discipleship’ and for our even younger disciples in training, ‘schoolyard discipleship’? Can you imagine - Living the gospel in the workplace and in the classroom!

Will the younger generation find the church to be a people of comfort, grace, truth, love? Will they know the church to be understanding, repentant and forgiving? And will they find it to be a place of safety for the questions that many are often scared to ask? That question is not answered within the walls of our building but from the window of your heart.

Jesus loves the little children

All the children of the world

Red & yellow, black & white

They are precious in his sight

Jesus loves the little children of the world

Pastor Michael Williams

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