Two Reasons The Church Needs Both Young And Old

One reflection I have from the 2017 New Room Conference in Franklin, TN is the ages were almost split down the middle. It was quite an intergenerational gathering. From the speakers to the participants, it was an even split.  Churches have always had an opportunity to build an intergenerational powerhouse that allows for all ages to meaningfully participate – from kids to senior adults.

At one point during the conference, Sandy Millar invited all those 40 years of age and under to come to the front for prayer. As I looked around the room during that time, it seemed about half of the people were still in seats. That’s about as even as you can get!

To be truly effective the church needs all ages. Not to be cynical, but in an era, at least according to digital media, where stylish haircuts and skinny jeans are automatically equated with growing and dynamic church leaders, I think we need to be careful.

Here are two reasons to be thankful for all ages in the church and in church leadership:

FRESHNESS & FAITHFULNESS.

The younger ones always come with a wave of freshness. There is a freshness in the ideas, perspectives, and questions. There is an openness to trying, a willingness to fail and a naivete to how the world will respond to sold-out faith in Jesus. Older ones need to hear and experience new thoughts, wild obedience, radical willingness and sheer desire to run the race in an all-out sprint. It’s motivating and inspiring. Older folks also need the questions. There is a need to be challenged. Why is it this way? Too often, a person can grow so comfortable in their style or success that they cease asking the catapulting “why” questions. The freshness of the younger ones in the church is imperative to health and growth.

On the other hand, the older ones provide faithfulness. They model the long walk of following Christ in obedience.  It doesn’t matter how committed a young person may be, there is no substitute for all the years of following Jesus.  It doesn’t negate the faithfulness of the younger generation, it’s just that without the years to help support the story, you just can’t have it, quite yet.  That’s why you need the older ones. Younger ones need to see that through tough times, the older folks managed to hang on clinging to God and God’s Word.  They need to experience their witness and trust in Christ even when the world puts pressure on them.  They need to experience long time, faithful marriages, committed ministry leadership, and seasoned prayer lives. The younger generation needs to see those older than them stick with it even when times are hard. And they need to see that they are more faithful to God than to their own ideas, egos or ambitions. The older ones provide a context for younger ones to grow and learn. The church needs this age range for faithful ministry to happen.

I think, as often as possible, older ones ought to hang around with young ones to get new ideas and new perspectives. And I think younger ones ought to seek out older ones for wisdom, guidance, patience, and prayer.

The beauty of the church is the constant balance of young and old, fresh and faithful. New Room embodied both a fresh wave of God’s spirit and the witness of faithful saints. I appreciated the way it all worked so well together.


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