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.

Too Young For Chruch?

Recently, someone (who doesn’t go to my church and I don’t know well) asked me what my thoughts were concerning the roles of “youth and children” in churches. They even went as far as to imply that young people should “just sit on the sidelines until their time came.” As someone who has worked with youth for a just shy of a decade now…wait, what? Did I just type that? Wow. Time flies. Anyway, back on track.

I believe that it is so important that we understand and recognize that the young people in our churches are an important and vital part of the Body of Christ. (Just as any true believer is a vital and important part of the whole.)

We can be certain that children and teens can truly be a part of the family of God (have a personal faith in Jesus as savior) because of passages like Acts 11:14, 16:31-32, and 1 Corinthians 7:14. Additionally, Jesus values, loves, and accepts children in Matthew 19:14 when He says, “let the children come to me.”

It can also be surmised that a majority, or at least some, of the disciples, were in their teen years. We find evidence of this in Matthew 17:24-27 where both Jesus and Peter pay a temple tax, but the others are exempt from this tax because of their age. Many Jewish teenagers and young men would follow a Rabbi, learning from him and studying at his feet. This tradition is consistent with what we know about the disciples.

Another example of a young person having an active role in the church would be Timothy. Paul writes to Timothy, who was a young pastor, in the books of 1&2 Timothy. We know that Timothy was fairly young because in 1 Timothy 4:12 Paul writes, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” This tells us that although Timothy was still fairly young, many presume in his late teens, he still had an important role in the leadership of the church.

With all of these examples in mind, we need to remember that the church is made up of people of all ages, including children and teens. 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 tells us that there is, “one body, but many parts.”

The focus of this passage is that each and every member of the Body of Christ is important and has a role to fulfill.

This, of course, includes children and teens. Since young people are a part of the Body of Christ part of their role, just like the rest of the Body, would be to encourage, pray for, and love one another.

Ephesians 4:1-3 urges us all to, “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

Additionally, Ephesians gives special instruction to people in particular ages and roles. Chapter 6:1 says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”

And, Paul’s instruction to Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:1 is a good and helpful reminder for anyone as well, particularly teens and young adults. “Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.”

From all of these passages, I think we can safely produce a few principles regarding the roles of young people in the church.

  1. To be a fully-functioning disciple of Christ.
  2. To learn from those older than them.
  3. To respect those older than them.
  4. To encourage others regardless of age.
  5. To pray for others regardless of age.
  6. To share the Good News of the Gospel with others regardless of age.

Notice anything about those roles?

They seem to be applicable to any believer of any age.

Encourage one another, love one another, serve one another.