Message Overview:

BOTTOM LINE: Tribes over time show us how we belong.

God created us with a need for meaningful relationships with Him and with other people. His design was for us to share our lives with one another. He also used tribes over time to reveal Himself to us and to continue to spread His message of love. Tribes have mattered for a long time. They matter because they are one of God’s primary ways to communicate His love for us. One person can make a significant impact in the spiritual life of a kid, teen or even another adult. But before we can make an impact in the lives of others we have to first start with OUR relationship with God! We need to get to a place in our own walk with God that our first and greatest concern is seeking God. Sharing your life with people takes effort and it takes being intentional; sometimes it’s a sacrifice, sometimes it’s a pleasure. As Christ followers there is no higher calling for us than to Love God and Love Others!

 

 

Community Discussion Questions:

 

Growing up, how did you wrestle with a sense of belonging? As a teenager, did you feel you had a place where you belonged? Why or why not?

 

Every kid needs a tribe. What defines a tribe?

 

Read Acts 2:43-47. 

 

What were some markers or distinctives that set apart the tribe known as the early church? What would it look like if our community group practiced these same behaviors? 

 

Read Luke 15:11-32. 

 

What did Jesus want people to understand about connection and belonging as a result of the Prodigal Son story?

 

Who are some kids or teenagers in your sphere of influence who you feel are disconnected? What is something you can do this week to make them feel cared for?

 

We really need to know each other! Not just on the surface but share our lives in Christ as well. When did you feel the closest to Christ?

 

What kinds of sins do you struggle with? (this is a question you can answer with a same sex accountability partner and not in the large group setting) How is your walk with the Lord? Who can you share with and how much are you sharing? 

 

 

Message Script: Tribes Matter

I want to begin this message by asking you an important question…

What do you want? Do you want to be successful in the world? Do you want to make a mark, or maybe even leave a legacy? 

God created us with a desperate need for deeper, more meaningful relationships with Himself and with other people. Basically, people need God and people need people. So that’s what we’re going to look at for a little bit this morning…

The title of the message is Tribes matter…What exactly is a tribe? It’s simply a group of people connected by something in common: ancestry, ideas, experiences, politics, theology, or sports. We define ourselves by tribes. I am a…..musician, Republican, democrat, mom, artist, student, A Saints fan….Tribes give you a wide range of relational choices. They offer circles for you to move in and out of as you discover who you are and where you belong.  We all need a tribe – whether it’s large or small. As a leader or parent, you play a critical role in connecting kids to two primary tribes: the church and the family

I want to share with you a pretty alarming statistic…Statistics speak of the drop off rate of students who graduate from H.S. and go off to college and leave the church…. it averages around 80% That’s an alarming stat! That means in a student ministry of 20… 15 of them will walk away from the church when they turn 18!

Let’s make it personal… if that stat holds true for you; If you have 4 kids…. 3 of them will turn away from the church.  As a parent of 4 that idea scares me! But those statistics drop off sharply if the student had one adult in addition to their parent; who invested in their lives! - That’s huge! 

One additional person can have a huge impact in the spiritual life of a student! 

 Research from Christianity Today: 

“Statistically, we found four factors that were the most predictive in determining which teenagers stayed in church: I wanted the church to help guide my decisions in everyday life (prior to 18). My parents were still married to each other and both attended church (prior to 18). The pastor's sermons were relevant to my life (prior to 18). At least one adult from church made a significant investment in me personally and spiritually (between 15 and 18).”

 The part that is most alarming for me about this statistic is this finding; “In most cases, our surveys show a lack of intentionality in dropping out. Eighty percent of young people who dropped out of church said they did not plan to do so during high school. It's not that most rejected the church. Our teenagers aren't primarily leaving because they have significant disagreements with their theological upbringing or out of some sense of rebellion. For the most part, they simply lose track of the church and stop seeing it as important to their life.”

Tribes Matter…

This isn’t news to God or to the leaders of the early church… Check out this passage from Paul

1 Thes 2:8 “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.”

We were delighted to share our lives with you! Just like love, words, and stories were God’s idea, so were tribes. Think back again to creation. God didn’t want Adam to be alone – so Eve came along. Then other people started showing up. People were always part of God’s plan. 

Maybe that’s why tribes matter so much. They exist to remind us that we belong to God and we belong together. When God wanted to redeem His creation, He started with a tribe – okay, twelve tribes. He created a nation and set them apart. They had their own faith, customs, and traditions… Then, through that nation, God sent His Son. And something interesting began to happen. Ecclesia’s, small tribes, began to appear all around the Mediterranean. They ate together. They prayed together. They had their own values and distinctives.

Then Paul wrote letters to connect these smaller tribes with each other. He helped them understand what they had in common. He helped them navigate similar struggles. He wrote down customs, beliefs, theology, and instruction to help define the larger tribe to which they all belonged. It was a group of people connected by a common trust in the death and resurrection of Jesus. The idea began to spread. The tribe grew.

It’s as if God designed us so we would naturally connect in tribes…Then, He used tribes over time to reveal Himself to us and to continue to spread His message of love. Tribes have mattered for a long time. They matter because they are one of God’s primary ways to communicate His love for us.

The Pharisees, as religious leaders, failed to understand that mission…They understood the value of keep the practices and traditions of the tribe of faith. But they failed to understand the value of a tribe in making people feel welcomed, accepted, and loved by God. So they developed a reputation for judging and rejecting people who didn’t perform by their standards.

So Jesus confronted them one day. He told a story about a family with two sons: the youngest left home prematurely. He took his father’s inheritance and went to the “far country.” It was his big change. He hoped to build his own fortune, find new friends, and leave his mark on the world…Unfortunately, due to a series of very poor decisions he lost everything.

I’m sure you’ve heard the story about how he finally said one day, “I wanna go home.” I can imagine the prodigal son walking across the last field toward the big house were he grew up. His loving father runs to meet him and gives him a hug. Why? Because according to his dad, “My son was lost, now he is found.” He was a smart dad who knew tribes matter. 

So he did two things: He gave his son a ring to remind him he still belonged to the family. He threw his son a party to assure him that he still had a community where he belonged.  He wanted to send a clear message, “There’s still a seat for you at our table. This is a place where you are known, you are welcome, you are forgiven, and you belong.” 

That’s something only tribes can do. And the tribes most strategically positioned to do that are the family and the church. Kids and teenagers desperately need people who know them, welcome them, and forgive them; over time so they will know they belong. We all want to be known by someone. 

We want to know: regardless of whatever failure we have in our life, we still have a place to belong and people who believe in us. This idea of belonging is actually what makes our faith as Christians, very distinctive. Our sense of belonging is rooted in our concept of grace. Grace means you don’t belong because you deserve to belong…. You belong because God has accepted and forgiven you. You are known by God in a way you are not known by anyone, (every thought, every desire, every action), and yet He was welcomed you into His tribe forever. That’s belonging!

It’s important to introduce children and teenagers to the grace of God when they are young. It maybe the greatest thing you can do for their sense of belonging. Just remember: you can’t feel forgiven by people who don’t really know you. That’s why kids need tribes over time. Kids need to be known before they can feel welcome. Kids need to be known before they can feel forgiven. Kids need to be known before they can feel like they belong.

So when they show up broken, lonely, and wounded, make sure they know they have a seat at your table….Be the kind of parent or leader who will give them a ring and throw them a party. Because there are two things that will make your home and this church attractive to kids and teenagers: forgiveness and joy.  If you want to create a place where kids want to be, or more importantly, where they will run back to when life has broken them, give them a tribe over time. Tribes over time show us how we belong…. Tribes Matter

I would just like to make a simple request: Get serious about giving someone you know a place to belong. Become more intentional about helping kids get connected to others. As a parent, realize your kids will need other people in their life besides just you. Pay attention to the kids or students around you who feel awkward, lonely, uncomfortable.

But I want to challenge us with this simple fact…The only way we will make that lasting impact on others is by allowing God to transform us first! 

Andrew talked 2 weeks ago about a passage in Deut 6 

6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

The part that stands out to me is the instruction given first, is the instruction to the parents to have the commandments upon their hearts! Then they were to pass them on to their children… if you want more on that jump on the website and download the podcast

Jump with me to another passage of scripture…

Jeremiah 29:11 is a verse that’s often used for graduation. It's a good verse and one that offers much hope and encouragement especially for wide-eyed grads starting into uncharted territory... 

It's a comfort for parents as they release their young adults into what can be a pretty difficult world...But I have a problem with this verse.... Actually I don't really have a problem with the verse I just wanted to get your attention what I really have a problem with is the way we approach this verse. You see, we read this verse...

" 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. "

And our natural desire is to look at the “plans” God has for us and to think of the fact that He wants to prosper us and to give us hope and a future...The problem is we're starting in the wrong place, most of the time when we look at this verse we're seeing it as "these plans" that God has for us, but we forget that God's plan has always been about a relationship with us....God deeply desires a relationship with us.... Not plans on how we are going to do great things for Him! 

That's why Jesus told us in Matt 6:33 

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33.

We can easily read or look at these words of Jesus, and just fly past them and not let them sink into our hearts and minds...“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness;”

These words are so incredible when you think about what God is really saying!  We argue in exactly the opposite way, even the most spiritually-minded of us—‘But I must live; I must make so much money; I must have this house or this standard or living….I would argue that if we're honest with ourselves for a moment...That the greatest concern of our lives is not the kingdom of God, but how take care of ourselves or our family.  Now don't get me wrong! It's not bad to take care of ourselves or to take care of our loved ones...But what we're looking at, is our order of priorities that we have carefully stacked up for ourselves... is a complete reversal of what God says is important. 

Jesus reverses the order: Get your relationship with God first, ... Maintain that as the greatest concern or priority of your life, and never put the concern of your care on the other things. Jesus is saying—Don’t allow food or drink or clothes to be the ruling factor of your life, these are so trivial!...  Instead be focused completely on God. He’s saying that the great care of our life should be to put our relationship with God first, and everything else second.

When we get our priorities out of line ...Here's how it turns in to a problem....We begin thinking of going to worship as something they need to “get in, get out and get about my business.”  We shift our focus, we become interested in doing our “Christian duty”. We focus our attention on “The Plan” but we neglect the relationship! This is easy to do… we all do it (some of us more than other)…but its easier for us to look at a list and go ok I can asses where I stand on how well I am following Him by the things I can check off my list. 

The problem with this thinking is that we get frustrated and burned out “serving God”. We are doing all this stuff that He never asked us to do and wondering why we feel far from Him…. (As if it’s His fault that we are far from Him.) But God wants something so much more for us. God desperately desires a relationship with you today! Not one that is based on a free ticket to heaven, one day when you leave this earth… but one that transforms every area of your life today. One that transforms every relationship you have! One that transforms the way you see people!  One that makes you be able to say as Paul said in 1 Thes 2:8

“We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.”

I want to pose a question to us today...What’s your big idea? What are you willing to spend your moral capitol, your intellectual capital, your cash, your sweat equity in? What or Who are you living your life for? What are you pursuing outside of these walls?

If you pursue anything other than your relationship with a God that loves you and desperately wants a relationship with you than I would submit to you that nothing you do will have consequence.

And if you are pursuing that relationship then find someone who you can pour into and help to understand the grace and love of Christ!

Let’s Pray…