Rev. Brady Finnern
I'm scared. I go to bed each night worried about my children's faith in Christ and their future involvement in His church. My prayer is that my children will confirm their faith in Christ, continue to attend worship throughout their young adult years, find a Christian spouse, find a Christ-centered church at which to worship, and raise their family in a Christian home. Yet statistics proclaim to me that most, if not all, of my children will probably be apathetic and/or deny the church and His gifts.
I cannot control my children or any young person, but it does not mean I cannot proclaim the truth. In much the same way parents leave a last will and testament, I leave these things to my children so that they know the truth of the church we leave to them:
- The church is about Christ and His gifts. The Church is there to give you Christ through the Word, forgiveness, and His Sacraments. These things take a sinner like yourself (I Timothy 1:15) and He saves You (I Peter 3:21), He renews you (Titus 3:5), and He gives full forgiveness (John 20:23). Many people will describe their churches by their potlucks, friendliness, youth programs, and service projects. Although all of these things happen in the life of the church, we must never lose sight of the gifts that Jesus freely gives.
- The church is full of hypocrites and that includes you. Often people will make it sound like the church is a place where "good" people go. However, the reality is completely the opposite. The church is there for sinners and a place where "bad" people go. Every day I say one thing and do another, my thoughts are soiled with impurity, and I fail as a pastor, husband, father, son, and neighbor. I am a hypocrite, the people next to you in the pews are hypocrites, and you are included in that exclusive group. Let's seek the grace of Christ together as we need it.
- The church will disappoint you. We lie to ourselves when we think that when a bunch of sinners will get together and there won't be sin and disappointment. There will be times where things happen that aren't good. People will not act "Christianly," There will be lying, gossip, infidelity, backstabbing, selfishness, and plain old mean behavior in the church. I wish I could say that you won't be disappointed, but that points us once again to our need for the unending grace and pure Gospel of Christ.
- The church's pastors are sinners, too. Be patient and encouraging with yours (as our church is patient and encouraging with me). Each week our congregation is incredibly patient with my flaws and issues as I preach the Word and serve them. They not only put up with me, but they also encourage me. In the same way, I ask for you to do the same with your future pastor. Pray for him, encourage him with your words, maybe write an encouraging letter, or perhaps even buy him lunch. He has been called to serve you and needs encouragement.
- Christ has died for you and His gifts are ready for you, even if you don't want them. When Jesus says He died for the world (John 3:16) and forgives the sins of the world (John 1:29), He means it. The church is the place where the gifts are given. All of this is free and for you. Thanks be to God for His grace.
I'm scared for the future, but the future is not in my hands, but the hands of our Savior. Lord have mercy.
Rev. Brady Finnern is the pastor at Messiah Lutheran Church in Sartell, Minnesota. He is married, father of four, and is a high school shotput and discus coach.
Created: June 3rd, 2016