The need for age diversity in the church

Thabiti Anyawale has written on the importance of a sort of cross-generational self-ministering of the church. Old to young and young to old. He see a reality most of us experience, segregated groups within the church based on life stage or age. “By and large, people seem to spend the bulk of their spiritual energy and time with other people in the same stage of life. There’s much that can be said about this–its scope, causes, benefits, and so on. But one thing that strikes me today is that segregating into enclaves based on age and life-stage tends to weaken the future of the church.”

I thought all we had to do to keep the church strong was reload with some young whipper snappers… Thabiti has more to say.

“We have congregations of people “trying to figure life out” largely alone. Great amounts of time get invested in helping young people negotiate the choppy waters of early adulthood, middle-aged people work their way through challenges of marriage, family, and career, and older persons figure out meaning late in life sometimes without much-loved spouses, declining  health, and shrinking numbers of living peers. Pastors and elders mistakenly think they must become masters of each stage of life, counsel people through every opportunity and difficulty, and be there in every circumstance. But, actually, the Bible instructs the pastor to teach the congregation to be there for one another and does so by tying the generations together so that the built-in expertise of old age gets leveraged for every younger generation. It’s a beautiful thing.”

The fact is that the whipper snappers need the mature among us. Older church members must play a role until they die. We are all in this together. And your ministry will make the church stronger.

“Older members of the local church become the front line of discipleship and care. They brighten the future of the church by teaching younger members how to live out the faith, how to avoid mistakes, seize opportunities, practically apply the word of God to their lived realities…We sometimes act as if older members have no role vital to the future of the church. But actually they are absolutely essential, indispensable.”

Shall we be about creating and refining churches that are for all generations? It is the biblical model and makes for a healthy body…

Read the whole post here.

One Comment

  1. Jonathan, this article you wrote goes hand in hand with an article about the juvenilization of the church in Cristianity Today. Well said!

    Reply

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