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Challenging Our Assumptions

Summary: Being on a multicultural journey as a church means changing our assumptions about many things, including the way parents raise their children.

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There are so many things to celebrate about being a multicultural church – authentic relationships between people with different cultural backgrounds bring new insights and perspectives about God, about life, about friendships... and so much more.  But sometimes those new perspectives can challenge our existing cultural assumptions.  And those cultural assumptions can be so deeply ingrained in our way of thinking that, when we see someone acting differently than we would expect, it can be hard not to see their actions through our cultural lenses.

These kinds of cultural assumptions were clearly identified in a recent article about African American parenting written by Nancy Hill.  I got to know Nancy and her family when they joined the leadership team at Grace Chapel's East Lexington campus.  We have shared live together over the past year in both simple and significant ways.  As I have processed all of the tragedies of the shootings of young African American males in the past couple of years, Nancy and her husband Rendall are one of the families at Grace I think of as I process my thoughts and emotions.  This reality is no longer some abstract story in the news for me, but a struggle that this family - my friends - must live every day.  So I appreciated this window – an article she wrote that got picked up by US News - into her world as a wife and parent who finds it challenging many days to send her husband and young son out into the world.

It is so important to suspend judgment when we observe something we don’t understand. We need to maintain an attitude of learning, not just about parenting styles, but also as we encounter differences about time management, direct and indirect communication, hospitality, and so much more.  Let’s learn to ask the kinds of questions that build trust as we go deeper in this multicultural journey at Grace.


What is Next Generation Ministry?

Since I was introduced as Grace Chapel’s new Pastor of Next Generation Ministries, I’ve been asked one question more than any other: what is next generation ministry?

It’s a great question, with two answers. One is simple; the other, not so much.

The simple answer is that Next Gen Ministries is the new “umbrella” covering our Children’s Ministry (Kidstown on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evening programming), and our Student Ministry (high school ministry – HSM and middle school ministry – MSM). So basically I oversee our staff teams who are leading our ministries from babies through high school.

The not-so-simple answer is that Next Gen Ministry is about casting a vision, then building a framework to achieve it.  It’s our vision to equip and empower parents to be the primary disciplers of their children and youth while raising up “faith-parents” from within the congregation who will serve alongside these parents in tangible ways.

What Next Gen Ministry is NOT is ministry to those who are “the church of tomorrow.” Just as our mature, elder members and friends are not “the church of yesterday,” we are – all of us, young and old alike – the church of today! Our church family would not be complete without grandmas, grandpas, aunts, and uncles, nor would it be complete without children and teens noisily wandering our halls and fidgeting in worship.

The church is one of the few places left in society that is truly intergenerational. Our young people need a place where they can feel welcome and at home with men and women of all ages investing in them, learning their names, praying for them, and loving them.

So while I may be found sticking my head in a Kidstown classroom, observing a youth worker give a talk to middle school kids, or teaching a group of high school students from time to time, I am here to build relationships with you, the adults of the congregation – parents and faith-parents alike – and looking for ways I can help you live into your vow to come alongside and help raise this next generation of Christ followers who are an integral part of our church today!

Keep watch over the coming weeks and months for “faith-parenting tips” that will help you begin to invest in this critical part of our NEXT initiative. I am blessed and excited to be a part of this team making young people a top priority at Grace. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14)

Ruthie Seiders is Grace Chapel's Pastor of Next Generation Ministry