Grandma and Grandpa’s Church.
It took me awhile to get used to it. I look around at my fellow church members and I see an overwhelming numbers of seniors, and not the seniors heading off to college next year. I see widows, men with canes, and sweet couples who have been married over fifty years. Prayers of the church and death announcements consist of names of people who used to sit in my pew. I have watched as they slowly walk up to and painfully kneel at the Lord’s Table to receive the true body and blood of Christ. Many faces have disappeared into senior living. Many bodies have been buried and are awaiting the resurrection of the flesh. It’s enough to bum a guy out. Aging and death is difficult to handle, even as redeemed children of God. Over the years I have accepted the age demographic in my church body. The lack of people my age used to bother me, but lately, upon observation of my elderly brother and sisters in Christ, I realize my feelings are misplaced.
Most of us have heard the saying: “Respect your elders”. That saying is really just an extension of the 4th commandment in terms of honoring people in authority. Respect and love for others definitely extends to the older members of my congregation. So why am I, more often than not, concerned about the ratio of older member’s vs younger members? Why do I get more excited about a new family with young children joining my church then a single older member? Should it really bother me that I’m the youngest member who attends the church’s “Men’s Group”? Shouldn’t it strengthen my faith to see older members who have lived so long in this world? They have lived long lives enduring sin, attacks of the devil and yet still remain steadfast in the faith.
There is no question that church attendance is falling. A lot of churches are losing members and are not gaining many back. So we worry, we worry what the future holds for our local congregation we love so much. The issue of the age demographics in my church worries me. Will the church be there in 10 years, 20 years, 50 years? Will my children have the chance to be married there? Will my funeral service be in that same place where I received so many gifts of grace? Like many things in life, doubts and worries like these are covered in sin with a side of the devil’s spit. My sin turns the great gift of faithful older members into something bad. The devil twists my thoughts into worry and temptations of church growth ideas. It’s more likely that I will sit next to the young couple with kids or alone then with the old widow who sits alone every week. Slowly my sin will cause me to forget and abandon my older brothers and sisters in Christ. Lord, Have Mercy. We are one body in Christ; equally loved, equally important and equally forgiven.
It may be a struggle but we must try to look upon age demographics in our church as a treasure and not a burden. After many years of attending a church with older members I have come to respect and admire their faith and service. Too many times I have sat on my hands while my older brothers and sisters in Christ serve. It’s time we started serving them as much as they have served us. We must continue to support our pastors in their service to older members as end of life circumstances may take an emotional toll on them. We should always be sure to remember that the service we offer to them is nothing compared to the true service and sacrifice of our Savior, Jesus Christ. His ultimate service to us all has paved the way to life and salvation. The grave could not hold Jesus, and it will not hold us. Our sins are forgiven because of Christ’s perfect life, his death and resurrection. It’s only through the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ that we are sure of eternal life and salvation. Jesus Christ is proof that God has not forgotten us. Let us not forget any of our brothers and sisters in Christ. From young to old, we are all children of God.