Get off the grass

I don’t want to be the old guy who yells at the kids to “get off the grass.” I don’t want to grow into old age speaking in negative terms of the church, succeeding generations, and how everything was just peachy in my day.

To begin with, things weren’t just fine when I was younger. As is true of any generation, the people of God had their struggles against false teaching, arrogance, and apathy. Furthermore, there are many great young people being trained to serve the cause of Christ today. Many are already doing so with distinction. Urging young people to go back to the Bible and follow it completely is not the theological equivalent of yelling at them to “get off the grass,” however. It is sound, urgent advice. It is the theological equivalent of begging people to refrain from polluting the water supply.

I am concerned that young people begin to pick up the mantle of leadership soon. I welcome the freshness of their ideas and the eagerness of youth. But I want to caution them that when they see something that has been built over the decades they not automatically assume it was built without cost, without love for the Lord, without thoughtfulness. Some activities today are the result of tradition, it is true. Some traditions should be removed, like a gardener cleaning a rosebush in winter. No tradition, of course, is the equivalent of divine command (Mark 7:3-9).

Beyond tradition, however, is something more foundational. I have fought for more than 40 years for the people known as churches of Christ. I guess some would say that makes me a conservative. In reality, the term conservative does not completely describe who I am. As a biblical conservative, I am not a heartless, graceless legalist. I am aware that many devotional talks and blog entries depict me that way, but these are caricatures, not realities.

Please take note: My love for the Lord, for the lost and for my brethren is deep and steadfast. I have a track record to show for this. We built on the foundation of Jesus (1 Corinthians 3:11). It is hard to be on the scaffolding, continuing to build, when people below hurl criticisms and innuendo at us.

Believe me, baby boomers weren’t (and are not) perfect. Many of the seeds of our discontent were scattered by baby boomers. Young folk are idealistic and want visual evidence of the church’s advance. Remember two things; not every advance in God’s sight is visual (the heart, the spiritual nature of a person is unseen, not seen). Second, just because you don’t see the service others render, please don’t assume they have not rendered any. Only God is omniscient.

Young person, if you feel the church is lacking, don’t leave; climb up the scaffolding and help us build!

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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