encouraging a unified worship experience

Too Old (Young) To Serve?


oldyoungThere is a discussion on some websites regarding churches that are releasing their staff members because of their age.This determination is not being made on the quality of the ministry of the staff member, but simply on their age. Apparently, there is an issue of “relevance” that makes these older staff members unqualified to serve. Along with this ideaology, there are churches that only want “young pretties” to lead worship and some that want nothing to do with the “under 30 crowd”.

Sadly, I used to have this same perception. However, in 2006 something happened that caused my life to change drastically. This “thing” was a gentleman named Don Smith. After a previous senior pastor resigned, a committee was formed (it’s the baptist way) to acquire an interim senior pastor for our church. The committee chair reported to the staff that they had chosen a 70 year old interim. “What?” I thought,”this is the guy that is going to help heal our church and move us forward? Impossible!”  Now, I pride myself on having a good discernment about people and situations, but in this case I couldn’t have been more wrong! This 70 year old retired pastor had more openness to ideas, music and wisdom than I could have ever imagined! His people skills were incredible and I am honored to have served under his leadership. In fact, when he found out he was dying of cancer it was quite an impactful day in the life of our church.

As I am researching generational worship for my doctoral degree, it is evident that there is a disconnect. Many times I have found younger people who wanted nothing to do with the older and vice versa. I have heard, “we don’t need them bringing those young people into OUR service” and “why would someone so old even attempt that”?  Sadly, these conversations can be heard throughout our churches across America.

Because of modern medical practices and an ongoing focus on health, Americans  live longer today than in previous generations. According to the CIA World Factbook, the estimated lifespan of a United States citizen is 78.49 years. Compare this to the average United States lifespan of 51.5 in 1912 and the issue of multiple generations in worship becomes clearer. Never before in the history of Christendom has the church ministered to four generations in a single worship service. Today one worship service may have Builders (born prior to 1946), Boomers (1946-64), Busters (1965-83) and Bridgers (1985-2004) worshipping together in a single service.

The combining of these varied generations into a single worship service has led to stylistic issues both in music and structure. Each generation often seeks a particular style, many times without regard to the other generations. In an attempt to alleviate these issues, experts in church growth have suggested moving to multiple worship services with each having a specific style. Unfortunately, this “solution” has not been without complications.

Today, rather than seeking a place to serve as a local Body, many families now seek a church that fits a specific worship style. Now, congregants are segregated by worship preference often under the banner of a single church name. Since these preferences are often defined by generations, the younger and older generations typically become separated. Sadly this goes against what scripture reveals. In Ps. 145:4 scripture reads that “One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts.”

How can we minister to each other when we are segregating ourselves based upon age? How can my children bless the senior adults when they are never around them? How can an older adult share wisdom and discernment with a 20 something he is never in contact with?

How many times have we been ministered to by an aging saint? How often are we blessed when we see young people giving their all for Christ as they grow and serve?

You see, when we stop growing together…we grow apart.

A couple of weeks back, I had the privilege to be a part of a funeral for a great man of God. He and his wife would go on mission trips and serve food for those working. In fact, they went to florida several years to serve food to the spring break crowd all while they were in their senior years of life. When I stop to think about how many lives were touched for Christ because of these two people’s amazing service, it’s incredible! What would have happened to those who were ministered to if this couple or the church said, “can’t go, too old”?

Let’s become encouragers and champions to each other. Let’s determine to bless our brothers and sisters in Christ regardless of age and watch how He will move through us!


These are my thoughts, what are yours?