We live in an older subdivision in the DC suburbs, and our house backs up to a wooded area. In the winter we can see other houses, but right now, I can sit on my back deck and see nothing but tall oak trees and green leaves.
Then there’s the sound. Just across the street, looming behind our neighbors’ houses, are tall sound walls to mitigate the noise from the busy four-lane parkway on the other side. We hear the rumbling noise of cars and trucks speeding by at 60 miles an hour whenever we’re outside.
Many of us—especially those of us up here in Minnesota—feel the drain the cold, long, and dark winter months have on our bodies and minds. We lack the vitamin D and the warmth the sun provides. Our bodies are sluggish. Our faces are chilled.
My preschooler has been among the many feeling the lack of the warmth and light of the sun. He has made it a habit of asking me the same question daily: “Mom, spring will come again, right?”
My hometown church is small. It always has been. I started attending my junior year of high school, and at that time, it was already a pretty small congregation. But it’s smaller now, six years later. And I know we’re not the only church with this story.
One snowy December evening, three of the young adults from our congregation stopped over to visit . . . on a whim. Here is the beauty of a whim visit: it doesn’t leave time for me to consider whether I should clean the house, run to the grocery store, or even change the tablecloth. Whim Visits say, “I love you enough to have zero expectations. You don’t even have to let me in the house if you prefer.”
Each generation brings with it new challenges and opportunities for ministry, and Gen Z is no different. The Barna research group just released a report on this next generation, those born between roughly 1999 and 2015. That would make them, pretty much at this point, the age of every child in our preschools, elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools right now, with a few outliers on either end (ages 2–20). In other words, this group is a pretty big deal for the future.
What are the doors like in your house? The front and back doors of my house are painted a jolly white, with six little farmhouse windowpanes in each. If someone knocks on the door, you can easily see who came to visit. There's no straining to see out a peephole or standing on my tippy-toes to assess the identity of an unexpected visitor. The bad part—there's no hiding from anyone either. If you walk near the door to see who it is, your long shadow will fall across the curtains and signify that someone is home. If you tried to crouch down and avoid someone, the sound of your footsteps would be all too obvious. Can you picture me doing this? Squatting down low enough, like I'm playing a game with my two-year-old, hiding from the eye of my visitor?