I recently had a conversation with a member of the community, a fellow Christian who feels slightly in limbo between church communities (if I dare speak on his behalf). Talking about our church he made it clear that he wouldn't fit with our "demographic." He was just too old.
Now, granted, he had a few years on me, (over 40), and yes, our church is a younger church. But I feel compelled to ask this question: when did church become about demographics? Jesus puts the call out to all kinds of people; young and old, rich and poor, of all races, backgrounds and cultures. Then Jesus prayed that we would be unified. That was his dream. So when did the church become about demographics, and being with people "like me," especially when it comes to something as universal as aging.
And yet this is a reality that I've seen. I've heard many stories of the aged in our churches being ignored, displaced, and made to feel as if they can't contribute or don't belong. It is a sad reality that sometimes we treat older generations with the same kind of distaste that the rest of culture is so often guilty of. But for those who profess a Christ mindset these are our brothers and mothers in Christ. And so I have to ask: what is the difference between a demographic of young people and a demographic of white people? Exclusion in the church is wrong. Demographics in the church is wrong. And so I'm making an announcement to anyone who wants to hear it...
WANTED: OLD MEMBERS FOR THE CHURCH!
When Jesus described the church he almost always used language describing a family. People who come together and share the same father, that is God. In Christ we gain new brothers, sisters, children and mothers. But what is a family with no mothers? What is a family with no children? What is a family with no older brothers, or younger sisters? And so what is the church without a true family which represents all these truths?
I would suggest that any church which fits into some sort of demographic is lacking. We don't reach our potential without diversity. We miss out on a great deal when we stick to our own. It makes us thin. And so as the pastor of a church filled primarily with young people, I'm just giving that extra little nudge to the older generations who have been connecting with our vision as a church but feel as if they may not fit, belong or be welcomed. I've even got reasons why we want you.
1) Your experience:
The members of our church are going through things that you have already gone through. We're dealing with realities in life and wondering how to meet them in God's way, how to see and search for God in greater ways. We want you. We want you to share with us what you've done, how you've seen God or haven't seen God. We want to know what's worked for you and what's failed for you. We want to know what you've discovered to be important in life. We want to know the other wisdom you've learned that I don't even know to ask for.
2) Your contribution:
If there's anything that makes any church meaningful in the world, it's the people who give their time and effort into its mission. Our purpose as a church revolves around putting every individual on the front lines of our mission. Everyone has something to give and contribute. We believe that every member of the church can contribute to the movement of the Kingdom of God in powerful, eternal ways. I believe that you have more to give than you're given credit for and that's something we want to see working in the community around us.
3) Your opportunity:
When do we actually interact with varied generations in our lives? The church is the perfect place for this to happen. This is the chance for us to come together, accept and learn from each other in unexpected ways. This means that you, our older generations, have the opportunity to learn from us as well. Not only can we benefit from your experience and contribution, but we can all benefit from the service we provide for each other. You provide a greater chance to teach and serve as well as our chance to learn and grow.
I believe that the church can be a powerful movement in our world. But if we want to do that, it means that we need to be using what we have. We need to get involved with what God is doing in the world and that first means getting involved in what God is doing in his people and rallying ourselves to God's work in the world. We hope to see everyone there.