The Greatest Generation (or GI Generation), the Silent Generation, baby boomers, Generation X, millennials and Generation Z are the names of the generations in our churches.
Knowing the names assigned to the different generations in today’s world is confusing and not always easy to understand. The one trait they all share is a need to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Serving God’s people in different generations is the challenge that churches strive to meet and overcome. New Martinsville UMC (NMUMC) in the Northern District is effectively blending their ministries to meet the unique needs and challenges of each generation.
When you enter into NMUMC, you are greeted with three colorful contemporary banners with John Wesley’s three simple rules on the walls. It’s a powerful statement that tells you immediately that they are a church committed to spanning the generations. The blend continues with name tags in the entrance, along with a display of the antique communion cups.
This church’s vision statement is, “A people who are being transformed by the Spirit of God into the likeness of Jesus Christ and are being sent out to transform their world.” This church is living out their vision statement. Further examination of the entrance area invites guests to be active in their food pantry, the kids weekend food program, or the Stephen Ministry: God Gives the Growth, to name a few of their ministries. This is the aspect of church life that appears to be common in each generation and brings them together.
The heart of the church is found in the sanctuary. You feel God’s presence in this Holy and sacred space. That God’s love is for everyone is evident and should include all generations is found in paper bulletins, screens, and apps. The offering can be made by direct deposit or during the traditional offering time. This church offers a contemporary service and a traditional service on Sunday morning, as well as a Thursday evening “Celebrate Recovery” service. Reverend Stephen Rector brings God’s message to God’s people. His messages are Bible-based and Spirit inspired.
Fun and fellowship are found in the multi-media center. Once again, the old meets new with the 10 Commandments and Beatitudes on the walls. This area is used for trainings, breakfasts, dinners, and basketball as there’s a full gymnasium. The church comes together here for fellowship that is inclusive and binds the generations together.
This church is a perfect example of the church being the church as we find in Acts 2:46-47 (NIV):
46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
It was inspiring and heart-lifting to be in this church, which continues to do God’s work with intention and purpose while including all generations.
Sheri Kernik is the pastor of St Paul’s UMC in Paden City (Northern District). She serves on the Northern District Communications team.