reFUNCTIONation suggestion # 41 : May we repent of not valuing the older people among the “churched.”

imageWith regard to those who consider themselves “churched,” there are some who wish to see something “new” and fruitful and alive again. Among them, there is a tendency that is both unhealthy and unwise. Passionate leaders who want to move in a new direction often do not value the important role that the older generation is to play. Peter, quoting the prophet Joel, actually mentions their vital part in God’s redemptive and renewing mission:

And it will be in the last days, says God, that I will pour out My Spirit on all humanity; then your sons and your daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. 
(Acts 2:17 HCSB)

I want to suggest we need to repent of not valuing and not involving the “older” people among the “churched” like we should. Part of this, however, in my opinion, is to blame on the passionate leader, while part is to blame on the older generation themselves. Here’s what I mean.

To the passionate leader – no one is as passionate about the vision you have as you are. Let me encourage you with a few things. Pray and ask Jesus to:

  • filter your vision for “the movement you want to start” to actually reflect and to fully participate in the movement Jesus started.
  • give you wisdom regarding the strategic way you will equip followers of Jesus OF ALL AGES to be disciples of Jesus who make disciples of Jesus in their daily relationships.
  • help you not just to use people for the vision you have but to help lead and encourage people to discover God’s vision for how their stories fit into His grander story.

To the older generation among the “churched” – we can’t thank you enough for years and years of giving and serving. Let me encourage you with a few things. Pray and ask Jesus to:

  • remind you of His purposes and how you yourselves continue to fit into His purposes.
  • help you to think more about His mission than you do about the church budget and more about mentoring than you do the style of worship in Sunday gatherings.
  • give you wisdom regarding how to take the initiative to mentor and encourage and support the next generation, recognizing they also have a sober desire to see the work of God alive just like you do.

The older generation is vital to the mission of and the health of local churches. But their purpose is clear in the New Testament. They are not to be coddled and catered to. They are not to be appeased. Rather, they are to be reminded of Paul’s clear directive to Timothy and to Titus:

And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 
(2 Timothy 2:2 HCSB)

Older men are to be level headed, worthy of respect, sensible, and sound in faith, love, and endurance. In the same way, older women are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not addicted to much wine. They are to teach what is good, so they may encourage the young women to love their husbands and to love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, homemakers, kind, and submissive to their husbands, so that God’s message will not be slandered. 
(Titus 2:2-5 HCSB)

What aches my heart is when I hear the older generation among the “churched” cry out to be “fed” and to be cared for. What aches my heart is that they are missing the very significant fact that when they take the initiative to care for and mentor and teach the younger generations the ways of Christ, they will be “fed” and cared for by the very young people with whom they build disciple-making relationships.

What aches my heart is when I hear passionate leaders do nothing but complain about the older generation. They are not a problem!!! They are a purposeful part of the solution of what is needed most for the church to function as Jesus intended. What aches my heart is when I hear passionate leaders dismiss the important purpose older leaders play in the ongoing mission of Jesus.

May we repent of not valuing the “older” among the “churched.”

Lord Jesus, please help leaders to see the value of the older generation. And please help the older generation to see the life-generating value of giving themselves away into the young. For Your Gospel’s sake and for Your glory. Amen.