People my age are not supposed to get along with those of my grandparent’s generation. Or, they should be welcomed in the church, but not listened to…as today’s church requires contemporary thinking and modes of ministry. At least, that’s what conventional thinking is among ministry czars of my own generation.
A response to that is … B-O-L-O-G-N-A. I understand the frustrations that can exist when generations and their values are in dissonance–and put in the pew together. Nevertheless, my conviction is that the greatest generation has much to offer the church, and much to receive from it. I also believe the gospel calls us to minister to everyone…not just the young.
To be fair, I’ve had my own experiences with. But, over time, I’ve come to absolutely love what Senior saints have to teach us.
- Church is a good thing.
- It is possible to be consistent in service, attendance, and giving.
- Tradition can be a lovely thing, when not placed above the gospel, etc.
- Marriages can last.
- America isn’t all bad.
It pains me when I here people argue for their ministry based on their superior usefulness to the church. For instance, someone with a teenager or a young-married person might argue that they are more important because they are "the future of the church."
Don’t get me wrong, ministering to the young is vital, and extremely important. It should be something that all churches do with passion and intentionality. While
it may be a practical reality that elderly people will in most cases have fewer
years to serve, such a utilitarian view of pastoral care raises serious theological
questions. Are we to focus our efforts
only on those who can be of the most use to us? Certainly not, from a biblical perspective, and in fact, God seems to
have a special heart for those that society deems “less useful.” Widows, orphans, the blind, the deaf, the lame,
the oppressed—all are identified as those to whom the church is supposed to be
especially mindful of. The aged would
certainly fall under this rubric as well.
Remember what James says in James 2:1? "My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory."
I believe this applies not only to matters concerning rich/poor. It applies to old/young, black/white, American/foreigner, and many others.
I don’t know why I felt compelled to write this post. Perhaps it’s because tonight I have the blessing of addressing the HOCC 39ers group. Maybe it’s because of how much Senior saints have blessed my life even since I was a little boy. Maybe it’s because I read too many ministry publications. Maybe it’s because I’ve been read of how revered Samuel was…even as he had nothing he could do for Israel any more physically. Maybe it’s because I preached through Ruth this past summer and was struck again by the relationship between Ruth and Naomi.
The question is…in what ways could the church bless the lives of Senior saints, and vice versa?