A New Kind of Generation -Acts 2
This message is a part of our Rethinking Church Sermon Series.
Maybe you’ve met someone that you’ve only known from their online profile. For example, you hardly recognize them because they’ve picked the very best photos for online and they look years older and pounds heavier in person. This happens to me often because people will speak to the Pastor of Faith Church in Chandler on the phone and then when I show up at the meeting they’re wondering if our church just sent the youth pastor or something.
This happens less and less, but it does still happen occasionally. This is a different of generation indeed, but the church is a new kind of generation in Acts 2.
I think probably many of our first time guests experience this because they really don’t know what to expect. So they have based their expectations off of what they’ve heard or maybe what they have seen on TV… Similarly, I find that people who have attended church their whole life have an expectation of church being a certain way because that’s what they had known it to be in their previous church.
What church looks like and what it should be.
Thinking on this through the week, I got curious what a google search of “church” would show. I was not surprised to find 2 very common themes- a little white wood plank church in the middle of a field and a large cathedral. Our church looks little like either of these… I was also curious what a Google image search of worship would show- two themes popped up there. Either a group of hands raised in the air with fog and lights or a man or woman raising their hands in the middle of a field…
To set aside all of those confused expectations and misplaced notions, I’d like for us to spend some time Rethinking Church by looking at the real thing in scripture. This is the new kind of generation church that is started in Acts 2 when Peter is filled with the Holy Spirit and stands to preach the inaugural message.
We are going to read some of that message in Acts 2:22-24, 32-42 describing the new kind of generation of the church.
I don’t know about you, but I love a good documentary. The 30 for 30 series of documentaries about sports, the Ken Burns documentaries on PBS, and others… I think the best documentaries are the ones that gather people who witnessed the event, were a part of the war, or were at the big game and then interview them, stitching together the eye witness accounts, with footage and photos.
Today we are going to begin a documentary not produced by ESPN or produced by Ken Burns, but put together by a physician named Luke. The beginning verses of Luke 1 tell us, Luke tells us that he’s put together the eyewitness accounts and recorded teachings of Jesus to share with his friend Theophilus. The book of Acts makes a similar declaration in the beginning. Luke had written out the life of Jesus and then the story of the Apostles based upon his own experience but also leaning upon the eyewitness accounts and recorded sermon notes of the disciples. Luke’s 2 books form a documentary in written form of the life of Jesus and the beginning of the church in 52 chapters.
Luke has given us a written documentary of the life of Jesus Christ and the birth of Jesus Christ’s church.
We’ll look at passages of Jesus speaking explicitly about the church, passages of Jesus acting out the mission of the church, and passages of the disciples and church leaders fulfilling the call and example of Jesus in the establishment and expansion of the church.
I want to give you a clear and accurate picture of what Christ intended the church to be, the new kind of multiplying of the church and growth he longed to see. This is important because our mission here at Faith is:
We are building the church our friends and neighbors will join and our children will lead.
When I say that, I’m not speaking of building a building or a physical space, but I’m speaking of building our group- our family of faith, our connected collection of followers of Jesus. While this isn’t a brick and mortar church we are building, there is a set of blueprints, a set of designs, schematics, or layouts that we should follow, must follow.
The blueprints for the Church we are building are in God’s Word.
The definition of what the church should be is in God’s word. This is important because often in our culture today we build churches based upon what we see on Instagram and Youtube. For example, what the megachurch down the road is doing- if it’s bigger it must be successful… What this leads to are mindsets about church that are very trendy, meaning what is popular now, but out of fashion tomorrow. The contrast to this is to build the church of yesterday- to always stay out of fashion, as if that’s more faithful. We are not building the church of tomorrow or the church of yesterday, but we are building the church of Jesus. That’s not trendy, instead it’s timeless. It is sometimes or even often out of fashion, but always faithful. Often unpopular, but always on point.
The gospel of Jesus is timeless.
The mission of Jesus is timeless.
The church of Jesus is timeless.
So it’s fitting that Peter says in his message, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
Untoward means broken and corrupt, not just messed up, but that it grows in that fashion, or that it bends toward the wrong thing constantly.
The best illustration of the meaning here is that it’s like an autoimmune disease. An autoimmune disease is when the body’s immune system turns on itself. Instead of attacking the disease, the disease turns the body against itself.
The untoward- or not in the right direction generation is the idea of the culture being crooked or out of alignment- it will always tend toward the ditch instead of going in the right direction it should be headed toward.
I think we can clearly see this around us in the culture we find ourselves in today…
This culture has a fractured identity. The culture, made up of multiple generations, has turned in on itself and it produces broken thinking and unworkable world-views.
This is true for every generation.
How many of you know what generation you belong to?
The Silent Generation: Born 1928-1945 (73-90 years old)
Baby Boomers: Born 1946-1964 (54-72 years old)
Generation X: Born 1965-1980 (38-53 years old)
Millennials: Born 1981-1996 (22-37 years old)
Generation Z: Born 1997-Present (0-21 years old)
Each generation is different and has stereotypical components.
A few years ago our denomination had a leadership conference focused on multi-generational ministry.
They had a few panels speak, one of which I was happy to be on.
I was on the young guy panel and was so frustrated that one of the men on the panel before ours read the years off like I just did. He then gave stereotypical observations about each generation.
His stereotype about my generation that was the most ridiculous was that we are not mechanical. Then he personally added, “most millennial’s don’t know how to start a lawnmower”.
Generations don’t likes to be stereotyped.
However, there are some elements that every generation shares in common for this reason-
Generations share cultural moments that shape them.
These are the moments that everyone can remember where they were or what they were doing when they heard the news.
They are the moments that touch everyone.
For the silent generation, this was the attack on Pearl Harbor and World War 2.
For Baby Boomers and Generation X it was the Vietnam War…
Talk about a difference in your perspective on war and the government- those were two drastically different experiences.
The scripture tell us a lot about generations. It’s common practice to speak of generations in our culture today, but this was not common 50 year ago.
Scripture talks about generations all the time. Moses even pointed to the fact that there would be a generation coming that would not have experienced the miracles in the dessert and the victories in battle. This generation would forget God.
Their story would be different from the generations that came before them. God wanted the people to institute holidays and traditions that would help future generations connect with what he did for them.
Peter is offering them a new kind of origination in Acts that will tie all of them together with a shared story.
He offers people a part of the Jesus story that God has been telling all along. It’s the story that Jesus came to take away the sin of the world and the sins of each individual.
He was offering them an opportunity to have the same shared story with believers over generational and ethnic divides.
The new age of the church has the shared moment of Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection.
In Acts 2, the new kind of generation of the church shares this incredibly important moment. This changes everything for everyone!
The biggest cultural moment may change the course of history for one group of people. It will influence other nations involved in war, however, there will be a generation this doesn’t touch.
This moment transcends all of those borders.
It’s two thousand years later and we are speaking of it and sharing it across ethnic, generational, political, geographical borders…
Geoff Bunting’s story about the church in his hometown that had a sign that said:
King James Only, Pre-Tribulation, Southern Gospel Singing, Traditional…
They changed it to simply say,
“Church like it used to be.”
If someone said do you guys do church like it used to be?
I’d say- if you mean 1955, no. If you mean AD 35, I hope.
The bottom line is church is to be about Jesus.
Don’t run from the message Peter preached of a new kind of generation in Acts 2, convicting the people. That message “Pricked in their hearts”.
They said, what must we do!?
Acts 2:38 says “…Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
He didn’t say, join the church. He said come to Jesus.
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