An age-old problem?
The church is dying… Half of churchgoers are pensioners… Average age of congregations rises again… No under 50s in a quarter of churches…
Headlines like this can be found everywhere. They’re designed to be dramatic, suggesting the decline of Christianity.
But do they also impact on how we view our church family? Do we start counting grey heads and worrying when they outnumber the ‘non-greys’? Do they stop us valuing older members of our congregations?
The value of the elderly
While society tends to marginalise the elderly, church is a family, and family includes people of all ages (Ephesians 3:14-15). Children, grandparents, parents.
None are more valuable than the other. And because God the Father values every age of his family (Proverbs 20:29), we should too (James 2:1-13).
He makes it clear that he has plans for our silver-haired relatives (Isaiah 46:4) – banishing the belief that if you’re wrinkly, you’ve stopped being useful.
He even links respecting the elderly with revering him (Leviticus 19:32).
The treasure of the elderly
But it’s more than that.
We need to do better than just politely acknowledging them, before looking to younger Christians around us for the future of the church. The elderly are the present of the church.
Elderly Christians are a treasure-trove we casually ignore – they’re often filled with decades of golden, godly wisdom.
The struggles we face, the questions we have, the mistakes we make: they’re not new to that quiet 80-year-old Christian lady we never talk to at church.
If you want to know how to deepen your understanding of the Bible, just ask the elderly saint in the wheelchair who’s been reading it for longer than you’ve been alive (Deuteronomy 32:7).
Don’t consign those grey heads to some kind of spiritual scrap heap. Make a new, old friend this week and see what they can teach you about Jesus (Psalm 92:14-15).