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“Our 20s and 30s contain the moments most likely for our faith to crumble.” These were among the first words uttered on Friday night’s talk at CATALYST. Not before a welcoming bowl of beef stew on arrival, though; surely a must for every festival in the future?
The theme of the weekend is confidence, and it’s right that Jasper Rutherford acknowledges ‘the missing generation.’ We are the most likely to leave church. We are the most likely to not return. With access to a myriad of sermons, podcasts and audiobooks online, we are a generation, unlike any previous, who are capable of knowing all the right things to know, read and listen to without never setting foot in a local expression of the Church.
For millennials, as we leave the bubble of our late teens and early twenties behind, we are suddenly confronted with having to make real decisions on our faith; we lose confidence in the faith we had as youths. Yet the overriding message from Friday is this: “Sometimes we need to lose confidence in ourselves to find our confidence in Christ.” Plenty to chew on for the night.
The confidence thread runs into the next morning as we’re presented with this verse from Matthew 16 (emphasis mine): “… I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it.”
Despite its failings and letdowns, we can have confidence in the Church because it isn’t ours; it belongs to Jesus Christ and he is the builder. How freeing is that?! Whether or not you are a leader in church, feel the burden lift off your shoulders as you read that again and again. He is building His church. This is how we have confidence in the Church; He who promised to build it is and will continue to build it.
On Saturday evening, our attention turned from confidence in the Church to confidence in our calling – our call to follow Christ. We jumped to the tail end of Matthew 28.
“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Did you see it?! Verse 17… when they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. Do you ever have those moments when you’re convinced there’s a verse in Scripture that wasn’t there before? Yeah. I had one of those moments with this.
We have to remember what the Disciples have experienced up until this moment… the most traumatic weekend of their lives (arguably in all of history) where they watched their Messiah decorated on a cross, an earth-shaking resurrection and Jesus appearing to them with holes in his hands.
As they reached the top of the mountain, they saw Jesus in his resurrection glory, but some still hesitated. After all that, some held back.
Here’s the best bit. Jesus didn’t single the hesitaters out. Immediately, he addressed the entire 11 as one, commissioning them to continue the work of God, promising His presence until the end of the age.
We take confidence from the fact that Jesus has all authority. He is now ruling the world. And he uses both those who are instantaneously all in and those who are holding back. Jesus calls us all. And he calls us all to a task that’s utterly bonkers.
Our 20s and 30s are the times when we’re most likely to lose our faith. Let’s not add to that statistic. Let us learn how to hold the tension of doubts, questions and fears with the knowledge that Christ doesn’t see us like that – he imparts authority and power and that He is building his Church.