Stop me if you have heard this: “We are a dying church. The average age of our congregation is in the sixty plus range. We need young families. We have put in our time; it is time for us to pass the baton to younger folks.”
There are two ways to view this. The glass half empty view is: we are a dying church. Our members are old and tired, and the end is near for them and us.
The glass half full view is: “Yes we have older saints in our congregation and boy are we blessed. These seasoned saints have time and knowledge that the church can enjoy. And what Millennials are seeking most in the church is relationship and someone to act as a spiritual guide through the dark maze of this amoral society.”
An Attitude Shift is Required
In order for the church to make use of the gifts of God sitting in the pews, we need to rethink our view of older adults. Maybe this illustration will help.
Old age is dreaded by almost everyone because it usually means loneliness, physical decline, and a retreat to inactivity. Some people tend to lose their enthusiasm for life and spend too much time in fruitless reminiscing and self-pity. They feel like “Old Jimmy”, an elderly gentleman George Mueller often told about. When this man was asked what he did all day since he had retired, he replied, “I just sit and think, and sit and think, and sometimes I just sit!” That’s getting old in the worst way — ceasing to live before we die.
History records that many people made some of their greatest contributions to society after the age of 65. The Earl of Halsburg, for example, was 90 when he began preparing a 20- volume revision of English law. Goethe wrote Faust at 82. Galileo made his greatest discovery when he was 73. At 69, Hudson Taylor was still vigorously working on the mission field, opening up new territories in Indochina. And when Caleb was 85, he took the stronghold of the giants (Josh. 14:10-15).
God never intends for us to retire from spiritual activity. The Bible says we can “still bring forth fruit in old age.” Even as Jesus kept the “best wine” for the last at the wedding in Cana (John 2:10), so He seeks to gather the most luscious clusters of the fruit of the Spirit from the fully ripened harvest of our lives. You may be sure God wouldn’t keep you on this earth if He didn’t have a worthwhile ministry for you to accomplish. So, keep on serving the Lord! Our Daily Bread.
Older, wiser saints; the Lord and the Church still has a need for the gifts you bring. Don’t check out on ministry when you have so much to offer, so deep an impact to make. Next week I will explore ways for the church to unleash the wealth of talents sitting idle in our pews.