Too Old For Church??

This last week I wrote about the role of youth in the church. I answered the question is anyone Too Young For Church? And writing about that got me thinking. Youth are not the only segment of church population that unfairly are marginalized or flippantly brushed to the side.

Just as young people are vitally important to the body of Christ, so are those with many more years under their belts.

I once heard a wise pastor say, “if you have breath, God has a purpose for you. And if you are sitting in this service and are not yet dead, we, the Body of Christ, need you.

I firmly believe that the elderly are truly invaluable to the church. Young people are foolish if they despise the wisdom, experience, fellowship, friendship, love, and guidance of their older brothers and sisters.

Proverbs 16:31 proudly proclaims, “Gray hair is a crown of splendor, it is attained in the way of righteousness.”

Leviticus 19:32 commands, “Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God.”

1 Timothy 5:1 instructs, “Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father.”

Moses was 80 when he led the Israelites out of Egypt. He faithfully led them for an additional 40 years before he died.

Joshua was in his late 70s when he took over for Moses. He led the Children of God as they conquered the Promised Land until he was 110 years young.

Eunice and Lois, Timothy’s mother and grandmother are praised in 2 Timothy 1:5 for bringing up the young future pastor in a godly way.

Anna, who Luke in Luke chapter 2 describes as a woman “advanced in years” was so faithfully looking forward to The Messiah that she worshiped in the Temple day and night.

Elizabeth was well past her “child-bearing age” but because of she was righteous before God she was finally able to conceive and be the mother of John the Baptist who spectacularly prepared the way for Jesus Himself.

I could go on and on talking about all the incredible things that God has chosen to do through faithful elderly saints.

The point from last week remains. No matter what age you are, God can use you for His glory and for the good of the Body of Christ.

Just as the Body is deprived if young people are not championed, so too is the church deprived if the elderly are forgotten.

Once again, I bring us back to 1 Corinthians 12:12-27. We need to always remember that there is one Body, but many parts. Even if those parts have been around for quite a while, they are still just as much of an indispensable part of the Body as you are.

Young people, do not despise or ignore those older than you.

Old people, do not despise or ignore those younger than you.

Will generations frustrate one another, and will there be friction as we strive to understand one another? Yes, almost assuredly. But is that any excuse for us to huddle in our own age-cliques? No, not at all.

Together, can we work to be sure that Christ is glorified both in the church and on the earth? Absolutely.

I need believers younger than me. I need believers older than me. And we all need Jesus.

Beyond The Walls

Things were a bit different in 1958.

Gas cost 25 cents! The average cost of a new house was $12,750! A gallon of milk only cost $1, and the average monthly rent was only $92! Dwight D. Eisenhower was president. Dastun cars went on sale in the U.S. Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Jerry Lee Lewis were the most popular artists. Candid Camera and The Ed Sullivan Show were on black and white televisions.

It was in this world that a small group of people meeting in a small school in a small suburb of Chicago decided to form a church.

This coming week my church is anticipating celebrating its 60th anniversary of faithful service to our wonderful Savior.

It is such an honor to be a small part of the legacy of this church that has, for so long, been so committed to missions, youth, care for others, service to the community, and love for God.

This January, in anticipation of our 60th anniversary, we, as a church, committed to a theme for the year, “Beyond The Walls.”

beyond walls poster.jpg

The theme itself is a bit layered. First, we want to be sure that we are going beyond the physical walls of our building in order to share the good news of Jesus’ love with anyone and everyone that we meet. For 60 years we have been in the same geographical location (the church bought land across the street from the school it initially met in and built on that land.) And so, since we have been present in this community for so long we want to be sure that we are, and continue to be, committed to getting beyond the physical space that we call our church building. We want to be known as a church that gives to and loves its community.

Secondly, we understand that we, as a group of believers, need to continually pray that God would give us the boldness to get beyond our own emotional and spiritual walls that we ourselves have set up. Often times past experiences, frustrations, and fears cause us to put up barriers in our own lives in order to hide behind. When we put these barriers in place we actually end up becoming less effective in our love and service. So, we are praying that God gives us the courage to break down these walls in our own lives in order to better love and better share the good news.

As I think about all the people who have come and gone from this church I cannot help but think of just how good God is and how wonderful His family, the Church (worldwide) is as well. Over the years I, and others, have seen God use this church in order to transform lives, marriages, families, and communities. This church has sent out many missionaries, especially for its size, to go and serve all across the world. We may not be a huge church, but by God’s grace, He has allowed us to have a global impact. That is certainly something to celebrate.

The neat thing about this church, and any church for that matter, is the intergenerational connectedness that takes place. Older generations set examples and provide wisdom that younger generations can need to learn from. At the same time, younger generations provide encouragement, enthusiasm, as well as new and fresh perspective. Both, older and younger generations, would do well to learn from one another. The church is a unique place for this to take place, and it is exciting to watch happen!

The Apostle Paul repeatedly talks about the church as a metaphorical body. (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, Colossians 1) We all need each other in order to function properly. The hand needs the arm, and the arm needs the legs, and the legs need the pinky toe. I need you and you need me. And we all need Jesus.

So, this week, praise God and thank Him for your church and how He has created it to be uniquely special in His kingdom. Praise God for His faithfulness to your local body of believers.

May we all, regardless of where we are, pray that God might give us the boldness to go “Beyond The Walls” in our lives in order to better love Him and love others! I pray that God would use my church, and yours as well, in order to impact this world for His good!

The Community Standard

We need each other.

This is a crucial thing for us to remember in the midst of a culture and media that would tell us “we are more divided than ever before.” Maybe the media’s statement is true (probably not) but either way, we still need each other.

The church ought to be the premier example of what a good need-each-other community looks like. We, as the church, haven’t always been that shining example. We can do better.

Mankind was created to live in community because (have I said this yet) we need each other. It is pretty undeniable that human beings crave community. We hate being lonely, and we can’t “do life” all by ourselves (no matter how much we might try to deny it.) We hate being alone because we were not created to be alone.

A good and healthy community was God’s plan for human beings from the very beginning. God said, in Genesis 2:18, “it is not good that the man should be alone.” Both men and women, being made in the image of the Triune God, need a community to support and be supported. Without some sort of healthy community, we all suffer.

The Church (When I talk about “The Church” I am talking about both local churches and the Universal Church as a whole that is comprised of all believers worldwide.) should not have to suffer in this way. A lack of, or an unhealthy community should be the least of our worries. We ought to understand the great and amazing gifts that we have been given- each other.

The Body of Christ should, and needs to be there to encourage one another, (1 Thess. 5:11) comfort and pray for one another, (Gal. 6:2) look after one another, (Phil. 2:3-4) and love one another (John 13:34-35).

When the church focuses on doing these things and caring for one another in these ways other people will begin to take notice. Jesus’ prayer in John 17:22 was that “they [followers of Jesus-i.e. the church] may become perfectly one so that the world may know that you [The Father] sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”

Our community with one another as believers is our strongest form of evangelism. This community-evangelism serves to remind us that the Family of God (those who put their trust in Jesus alone for Salvation) was intended to be open to all and ever-growing.

Our communities (churches, small groups, friend groups, Bible studies etc.) need to be a place where believers can love and support one another while growing in their faith as well as a place where non-believers can observe a healthy and biblical community that ultimately points to Jesus as Savior.

Another incredible reason why we need to focus on our community health more is that each of us, as individuals, has so much to offer. Every single person who has put their trust in Jesus has a God-given gift. These gifts (spiritual gifts) are given for the building up and strengthening of the church. And, as we looked at earlier, when the church is strong and focused that means good news for the spreading of the Good News.

There is a big difference between attending a church and participating in church. A healthy disciple of Jesus will be an active participant in the body of Christ. Those who simply attend church deprive both themselves and the rest of the Body, of a true and godly community. Those who participate in church (use their gifts and serve one another) will benefit both themselves and the rest of the body.

Romans 12:4-5 reminds us that the Body is made up of many members who need each other. A true and growing disciple of Jesus is one who understands and fulfills their purpose in the church.

What would our churches look like if we were to focus more on the health of our community with one another?

Imagine just how much more impactful we would be if we were more loving, caring, and committed to one another. It’s time for the church to, once again, set the standard for what a good and healthy community looks like.