Great Stuff — Jerry, It’s Not Your Church Either

Found over on Letters from Hanwell:


Beautiful-old-faceThe church I have been called to serve is full of grandfathers and grandmothers. It’s full of grandfathers and grandmothers who raised their children in the church. They struggled to teach their children the faith. They fought the culture and took their children to catechism classes, even though their children complained about it. They brought them Sunday morning. They taught them, when they could, between homework and sports.

Then their children went to college. Some of those college students went to church in college. Many of them didn’t. Some came back to the church after college; many of them didn’t. Some of their children continued to stay in the faith; many of them didn’t.

And so many of the grandfathers and grandmothers in the church I serve have worn out prayers shawls pleading with God to work in the hearts of their children who have left. They have worn out the carpet next to their beds, crying out in pain. They wonder what they did wrong. What should they have said? What more can they say? What’s the word they might speak to their children to bring them back? If these grandfathers and grandmothers have the courage, they’ll find some oblique way to ask pastor what to say. They don’t want to let on that they hurt over this. But they do. They watch generation after generation grow up farther from the church. So they pray; and they wait. And they cry. And they suffer.

At church, grandfathers and grandmothers are the ones who give. Statistics show the younger people don’t give like their grandfathers or grandmothers. They remain loyal to their church. Even when their pastor doesn’t always choose the old hymns they love, or even when he says something crazy, or even when he talks too fast they can’t hardly understand him, they stay. You won’t find such loyalty (generally speaking) among the young.

Then they hear a former president of their church body say: “Grandpa, it’s not your church anymore. Sorry grandma, it’s not yours either.” No, your church belongs to the young people, who don’t come. Your church belongs to the young people, who don’t provide for the church. Your church belongs to the young people, who get up and leave whenever they get offended. Your church belongs to those who like to shop around, so make them comfortable or they won’t stay.

Now I know there are young people out there who do show loyalty. I’ve got a few couples in my congregation who care greatly about the church. But I’ve had far more young people leave or refuse to join because they were uncomfortable with what the Word of God speaks.

The callous, heartless attitude of diminishing the work, sorrow, and pain of grandfathers and grandmothers in our church sickens me.

So, Jerry, if the church doesn’t belong to the grandfathers and grandmothers, then it doesn’t belong to you either. Jerry, it’s not your church anymore. (Kind of hurts, doesn’t it?)

In fact, it never was. It’s always been the church of those who came before us, and it will always be the church of those yet to come. It’s the church of the entire body, of all the saints in celestial song before the throne of the Lamb. It’s the church of the Body of Christ, regardless of age.

And since I don’t know those yet to come, and since what they will have to speak is the same message my grandfather now speaks, I’ll be content hanging out in the house of my faithful, Lutheran grandfather—and grandmother.

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