Ask anyone who grew up in the Church of Christ to recite a verse from memory and chances decent they will quote Acts 2:38.
“38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Then Peter says something in the next verse that is just as important as anything he said in 2:38, “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
We need to lean as hard into Acts 2:39 as we have leaned into Acts 2:38.
Church, we need to think generationally. We have missed this. We think our congregations will last forever. They started in the 1950s and 1960s and won’t be here in the 2050s and 2060s. I promise you these congregations won’t and will be 99% right on that.
We have to think generationally. What are we doing today to invest in the next generation? This is why we must equip people. We must train people. We must utilize the gifts of the generations in our churches.
This also means we need to connect intergenerationally. Get people together who wouldn’t normally be together. This is one of the strengths of our churches that many other areas of life just don’t offer – old and young can connect.
Then the second thing is that these promises are also for those who are far off. When Peter said that he probably meant the Gentiles and the scattered Jewish people all over the world.
If all we are doing is thinking locally and our generation, we aren’t thinking biblically.
Please consider that. Discuss that with leadership. Start praying and then planning how to work in a generational and international way. It may just be the generations and the nations are already present in your community.
Matt–Do you Believe That Baptism In Jesus Name, After You Repent, Remits Your Sins! Acts 22:16! Then Is There Any Initial Evidence You Have Been Filled With The Holy Ghost? Acts 10:45-46! Be Blessed! What is The Significance Of Matthew 28:19 And What Does That Verse Mean!! Be Blessed! Charles Kelly Memphis, Tenn.
For starters, the second sentence in v 38 about gift of Holy Ghost/Spirit gets into a dangerous area. You can’t avoid a discussion of Texas vs Tennessee tradition battle with the winner (Texas) not believing in the indwelling of and subsequently and forcefully removing the Holy Spirit, even changing the words in song books. John Mark Hicks wrote numerous blog posts on this and said it best, “The loss of dynamic divine power in sanctification and the reduction of the Spirit’s work to an empirical epistemology of the word fostered debates over patterns and mechanics rather than an emphasis on the transforming, enabling and sanctifying life in the Spirit.”
Furthermore v 39 contains the word “call“ which gets one dangerously close to and likely accused of subscribing to Calvinism. Thus, v39 was never read aloud.
As to intergenerational, it would be great if there were any event where young and old were participating together and interacting, provided the older generations did not do what their predecessors did when they ran Gen X right out of the cofC and Christianity. I always wanted someone to have the guts to ask the older generations if and why they were determined to run their grandchildren off. However, you as a church have to decide if you want new people or not. If you do, then by all means reach out to those who are far off but don’t bring them in only to get rid of them later.
A large, very conservative cofC had this in their recent bulletin in the list of elders meeting minutes,
“Prayed specifically for God to bring more young families and children to the congregation and to help us reach the lost, locally and around the world”. This tells me while they would like to reach those lost people who are far off, they only want young families with children as new members of their congregation. This is troubling in the sense that it says who isn’t wanted in that particular congregation. This has caused some to say a very sad prayer likely after lighting a candle in a Catholic or Episcopal church of words like “G-d, if you love me, why doesn’t the church or why am I so unwanted?”. I hope none have to the need to pray this.