Is today’s evangelical church making the mistake that in their well-meaning efforts of wanting to stay relevant and connected to the times they have done so to such the degree that the Body of Christ is actually not honoring their elderly saints?
One only need to check out that most of today’s Christian bestselling authors, and those that are topping the charts in writing and singing contemporary worship music. Also, the most popular conference speakers that believers are flocking to hear, and the hippest mega-church pastors all seem to be younger, hipper, and very cool in both the way they preach and the clothes they wear.
Is Christianity today guilty of actually putting its older pastors out to premature pastures?
I’m not putting the younger generation down. The Bible clearly exhorts the older members of the flock to not purposely look down on the younger just because of their age.
I am just trying to make a point that there is a real danger if there is not enough maturity in the midst of the Church.
How can you gain wisdom if everyone you interact with is also your age? Where is the attention due those who have lived life and experienced more of the journey in such the fashion that they have much to offer others who are still building their foundations?
Could it be that today’s church experts have been guilty of not paying proper attention to the elderly? Are today’s senior saints being forced to dwell in the shadows of ministry, leadership structures, publicity campaigns, vision, and input?
When I began my life as a youth pastor, I was only 22 years old. I had much to offer the teens that I imparted life into, but also much to still learn from the older servants in my sphere of influence.
In 1997, I moved from a youth emphasis to becoming the lead pastor at The Lighthouse Church here in Cape May County. When I got here, I was 37. Although at this point, I was married for 15 years and the father of three, I was still intentional about making sure that there were older men on the Elder Board to balance out my age at the time.
Today, I am on the verge of turning 60, and celebrating my 38th year in full-time ministry. Now I am balancing out our leadership team at The Lighthouse Church with younger men and women who can relate better to the youth and younger families and have so much more energy than I do.
I know I will always be an advocate of making sure that today’s church is cross-generational. While I strongly support age-appropriate specific ministries to the different seasons of life amidst a congregation, I want the Celebration Service to be made up of God’s children of all ages.
I want the young to interact with the older disciples. I want to keep the legacy of yesterday’s hymns alive while still championing the new worship songs of the present day.
I want to provide a common avenue, so that true interaction between the saints of all ages and backgrounds takes place. If believers get siloed into just sticking with their own, I truly believe the church is weakened and watered down.
Every tongue, every tribe, every color, every background and every age seem to be the precedence the Bible has set for the makeup of the local family of God.
I love the up-and-coming preachers like Steven Furtick, Mark Batterson, Kyle Idleman, Matt Chandler and David Platt to name a few.
They are spot-on scripturally and powerful in their messages and delivery. But I also love Chuck Swindoll, John MacArthur, John Piper, Tony Evans and the late preachers like Dr. Robert A Cook and James Montgomery Boice.
I would encourage all believers to make sure tey have a Paul in their life; that someone they can look up to and someone who has permission to speak truth into their life, even if it is difficult.
We all also need a Barnabas, someone who is a peer and a confidant that we can run this race of faith side-by-side. But we should always have a Timothy, that individual we are mentoring and building into so they too can grow up stronger to be more like Jesus. Who is your Paul? Who is your Barnabas? Who is your Timothy?
Make sure you have all of these types in your clubhouse before you step out onto the field ready to compete in the daily contest of living for the Lord.
Finally, I think we all need to be true to who God has called us to be. I am not cool nor have I ever been hip nor a trendsetter. I believe I still have the passion of a 17-year-old but make no mistake, my body lets me know I’m 59.
I would look foolish wearing skinny jeans, and there is not much I can do with the little bit of hair I have left on my head. I don’t use PowerPoint in my messages. I still preach verse by verse through all of the Bible and get quite animated while doing so.
I provide thorough notes and prepare many hours for the weekend presentations that I have the honor to share with those who come on out to The Lighthouse Church.
I hope to keep preaching until the day God calls me home. I never want to lose the wonder or take for granted what a wonderful occupation that God has empowered me to perform.
I love when the other pastors on our staff also bring their best to the pulpit. We are all wired differently and I think that is a good thing.
When it all comes down to it, it is not my church or your church, but it belongs to the Lord.
So, if we want to keep being effective and successful, I think the goal for all of us is to make sure that Jesus gets all the applause. If we keep on lifting Him up, then people are drawn to Him, and He never lets anyone down. And that is true no matter what day and year you were born.
(ED. NOTE: The author is the senior pastor of The Lighthouse Church, 1248 Route 9 South, Court House.)