Cathedral Thinking

Travel across Europe and you will come across the magnificent display of architecture and design known as the cathedral. These structures dot cities all over Europe, enrapturing visitors by their sheer size and magnitude. Entering a cathedral, you begin to feel very small and insignificant and that’s the point. With their high ceilings, massive archways, and intricate details which cover every square inch of the structure, cathedrals express the greatness of God and the smallness of you.

To build one of these edifices will take you about 200-300 years—proving that if Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither are cathedrals.

When I learned that it takes close to three centuries to complete one cathedral, it dawned on me that the ones who initially started the building process would die before they would see the work completed. Eventually, it would be the 10th generation that would see the finished cathedral and it was all because one generation was building and training the next generation to take over the project.

The amount of foresight and planning is incredible. More specifically, however, was the diligence in training up the next generation of workers. Back then, occupations were passed down to the next generation. For example, if your father was a carpenter then you would be a carpenter. So, the success in building a cathedral was largely dependent on generational continuity—one generation deeply connected to the next and working together.

If we were to look at it today, this type of “cathedral thinking” is missing in our culture. Generations are isolated from each other and there is a large demographic that 1) has hardly anyone speaking into their lives and 2) have been trained to disassociate themselves from the past in the hopes of being more “progressive”. For the most part, we hardly think about what we are leaving to the next generation after we die or ensuring that they are properly equipped for the task ahead. To be sure, we may look at younger generations and say they are the future, but look at where the future is headed, can we say that it is a bright one? The finger can’t be pointed at Leftist ideologues at the college campus or the Millennial who has been drinking the Marxist Kool-Aid. No, the responsibility falls on us. Like if one generation didn’t gather the lumber for the cathedral or shirked on laying a proper foundation for the structure, the generation after cannot be entirely to blame if it all falls apart.

In 1 Chronicles 22:2-5, King David begins to prepare to build the temple. Earlier in his life, David had set in his heart to build a temple for God, however, due to David’s role as a warrior-king, he was prevented from doing so. Instead, King David provides a great number of materials and organizes the manpower to see that his son, Solomon, finishes the task. David was looking to the next generation to complete the work but he didn’t sit idly by with ideas. He put in the effort during his life and the temple was constructed years after his death.

What are we building and how are we building into the next generation? If we want a strong community, a strong nation, or even a strong church, we have to be about the business of training up and pouring into the younger generation around us. We must connect them to the past, and in the case of Christianity, pass on what we have learned.

The failure to execute and implement “cathedral thinking” has got us to the point we are today—a crumbling nation, unfinished, and lacking laborers. However, there is still time to work. As long as we are alive, we can devote whatever little time we have left ensuring that those after us have something to build with and we can pray to God, that the work of building of his kingdom would not stop with us

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