I received my first AARP material in the mail six years ago.
I turned 61 years old two days ago. One of my sons says I am fossilized.
I am a senior adult.
Have I noticed any differences in my life at this age? Certainly. I move more slowly. My idea of a mini-marathon is running to the kitchen from the family room. I see things differently. I don’t know if I am wiser, but I certainly have different perspectives.
And I have to admit I view church life differently. In fact, I sometimes scare myself with my rigid attitude. I need to write these words quickly lest I become too comfortable or too complacent.
I have five specific prayers. They are for me. They are for my attitude about my church. They are reminders I will need to review constantly.
- I pray I will not feel entitled because I am a key financial supporter in the church. This attitude means I consider the money my money rather than God’s money. That means I am giving with a begrudging heart.
- I pray I will not say “I’ve done my time” in the church. Ministry through the local church is not doing your time, like serving a prison sentence. It is an outpouring of joy and thanksgiving to God. I love those churches where senior adults are the most represented among the nursery workers. I need to be among them.
- I pray I will not be more enthused about recreational trips than ministry and service. There is nothing wrong about me getting on a bus and going to Branson, Missouri, or Gatlinburg, Tennessee. But there is something wrong when that is my dominant involvement in ministry in the church.
- I pray I will not be more concerned about my preferences than serving others. I’ve already blown it on this one. I did not like the volume of the music in the service at my church a few weeks ago. I complained about it to my wife. And then I was reminded of all the young people in the church that Sunday worshipping and praising God during the music. I was more concerned about my preference than seeing others worship God.
- I pray I will not have a critical spirit. I attended a business meeting of a large church some time ago. The total attendance at the meeting represented fewer than five percent of the worship attendance. One of the men who recognized me approached me before the meeting, “We come together at these business meetings to keep the pastor straight,” he told me. In reality, they came together to criticize the pastor and staff. I pray I will not become a perpetual critic. I don’t want to grow old and cranky; I want to grow old and more sanctified.
Now that I am a senior adult in my own right, I need to make certain I am not a stumbling block or a hindrance to health and growth in my church. I pray my attitude will be like that of Caleb:
“Here I am today, 85 years old . . . Now give me the hill country the Lord promised me on that day . . . Perhaps the Lord will be with me and I will drive them out as the Lord promised” (Joshua14:10-12, HCSB).
May the Lord grant me wisdom and service all the days of my life, including my senior years.
Let me hear from you. I bet I will.
Posted on July 18, 2016
With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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Our young pastor recently posted this on a Facebook page.
“Great points in this article for all church members, regardless of age. This article was a great reminder to me that the “older adults” in our church live out these positive truths in powerful and practical ways. Thank you “older adults” for being such humble and godly examples to me, your younger pastor, and to the many younger brothers & sisters who make up our diverse church family!”
Then he added your article. I found the first four demeaning to older people. I guess the last one is appropriate for me since I am critical of this piece of writing.
Felt like the carrot and the stick.
This young pastor loves the Lord and preaches biblically.
He doesn’t visit the elderly when they are ill (except me which makes the others look at me sideways). He doesn’t have the senior fellowships listed in the bulletin. We started our own prayer list because he stopped adding them to the bulletin or announcing them in the service. He told me that it was because new people already felt out of place and seeing a list of sick or deceased names that they didn’t know would make them feel more isolated. He is critical of other’s “preferences”. When we started self serve communion, he never noticed that those in wheel chairs and walkers couldn’t get out of the pews, get in line and try to hold the elements while getting out of the way as the service was ending. After 5 months of someone serving them from a kitchen plate the pastor’s wife decided that an usher should serve them.
Don’t get me wrong. He was called to our church and is growing in grace and wisdom. However, your article was used to bludgeon us just a bit. Please try to be more careful.
And yes, I talk to him about these things… and he hardly ever hides anymore when he sees me coming.
when you call him your “ypung pastor” you might be demeaning him. He is your pastor, sent by God. He may do things differently than what you might want or expect. But if he follows the bible, then you should follow him. The things he suggests and wants to change might be exactly what God wants to change. Remember, the future belongs to these young people and they will make whatever changes they want after we are gone. We can help guide the future with them, or we can watch them change the future (and the present) without us.
I realize this thread is old, but it applies to me now. I must post anonymously. While I certainly appreciate your approach, I have taken a different path.
I am fast approaching 61 years old, born and raised in church. I was even a church planter for a while. In the 80/20 rule I was part of the 20%. I poured my time, treasure, and talent into volunteer church work all of my adult life. But just over a year ago I reached the breaking point. Of particular note:
1) As it turns out, the grayer your hair the more you are expected to just sit down and shut-up but quietly and blindly fund everything. Your decades of volunteer or leadership experience is magically out of date, and you stand accused of making the church look too old to the all-important 20 and 30 somethings. You are increasingly expected to stay out the visitor line of sight, but HEY! The nursery and pre-school sure need help!!
2) The constant push into manufactured small groups over the last few years. I absolutely despise being pushed into situations where I am expected to bear my innermost thoughts to people I have NOTHING in common with. I resolved to never, EVER be forced into that nonsense again.
3) I’ve seen and heard more than enough propaganda from the unhinged “Love Wins” or “Love Trumps Hate” reich that so many churches have subscribed to. I see ZERO evidence of either ‘winning’ or ‘love’ from these intolerant, hate filled bullies.
After earnestly trying 3 different churches, we FINALLY got the message and we joined the DONES. We have no plans to ever return. My Sunday mornings are now coffee on the patio with my beloved spouse, with our favorite worship music CD playing softly in the background, and we are enjoying our Sunday mornings for the first time in many years. We have a circle of close friends that has become our small group, and we give our weekly tithe to local community groups and specific individuals that need a hand. We are convinced that we made the right choice for our physical, mental, and spiritual health at this point in our lives.
I just pray that I won’t fall asleep in the middle of the sermon, and if I do, I won’t snore too loudly.
FIVE THINGS I PRAY I WILL DO AS A SENIOR ADULT IN THE CHURCH
1. I pray that I will continue to grow in generous giving.
2. I pray that in my continued sanctification, I will be a greater reflection of God’s love in my faithfulness to the church.
3. I pray that God would continue to bless me with opportunities to use the gifts I’ve been given in His service.
4. I pray that I would live a life worthy of my calling and be used as an encouragement to those who are both older and younger.
5. I pray that I would see always have a clear vision of God at work with our church and its ministry.
Praising God today for those senior adults in our church who are an excellent example of generosity, love, faithfulness, encouragement and life long commitment to Christ!
When will we realize the Bible really is the best “church growth manual” out there.
And when will we realize backsides on benches does not equal more people worshipping Jesus. Yes, the super loud rock concert music will pack the pews in some venues. And yes, mature Christians of all ages are questioning if this is beneficial.
People today come, enjoy the concert, lift hands, appear to worship, but often there is never changed lives and a mature faith produced.
God’s Word tells us to treasure the wisdom of the senior saints, not denigrate them for not following the latest whim of the gurus.
Talk about what older people should be doing for the church, talk about what the elderly can do to serve Christ. Always praying and always checking ourselves for any sin in us first of all. Read God’s word over and over again. Keep on focusing only on the son, the Lord Jesus Christ
I’ve never believed Thom is critical or negative at anyone at all. He’s offering his insight to fellow Christians to instruct and to strengthen. I’ve been a pastor for a number of years, served as a deacon for years before becoming a pastor and I’ve seen and experienced many of these things Thom writes about. I appreciate his comments because I know they’re coming from his heart and that from his experience. Thom, you’re in my prayers brother. Keep on teaching! God bless.
Thank you, my friend.
Thanks for this thoughtful article. I’m the lead Pastor (and a Millenial) at a church that is predominantly 60+. While I have seen those 5 attitudes manifested in some individuals throughout my time in ministry, I can honestly say most of our seniors are hard workers, friendly to outsiders, and have learned to be flexible over the years. I am blessed to serve with them, and that they called me at a young age (31) to be their pastor. Praise the Lord for Godly seniors in the church who set an example for everyone else.
I appreciate the gentle reminder for us ‘old folks’. The 7 last words of the church is “We’ve never done it that way before”. Blessings to you.
I am among you, Sheralyn. Thank you.
The flip side of that is equally as bad, “We’ve always done it this way before.”
WOW! MAN! That is right on the mark!
My wife and I are 68 and I serve Pauline Baptist Church as associate to senior adults. I plan to make copies of this piece, hand it out and talk about it at our next senior saint meeting.
If I get fired, I will ask about helping find another part time job! HA!
THANK YOU for all you do for we older, and all the younger generation of Christian leaders. Your blog and books constantly heal the wounds of separation that seems to rise between generations.
KEEP Up this great work!
Thank you, Larry! Love your heart!