When we were originally getting started in the work that eventually became Bedford Road Baptist Church, we were doing a study curriculum that included the question, “What do you consider the ideal age?” I still remember the faces of those around me when I answered, “Fifty years old. I can’t wait to be fifty.”
My answer is grounded in a passage of Scripture: Grey hair is a crown of glory when it is gained in a righteous life. (Proverbs 16:31)
Everyone in our society is trying to control the interests of the young. More frighteningly, many of the “old” are trying to pretend they are young. My wife and I often comment on the 40+ year old men at the mall wearing A+E or with fauxhawks and soul patches, trying to look attractive. Recently, I read a book by a prominent church leader who commented about how awesome it was that most of his congregation of thousands was under the age of thirty.
Our culture is obsessed with youth, and as a result, the generation we are losing is not the young. The generation we are losing is the older, more experienced. We have youth in spades because we have turned our weekly worship into a youth rally; but those the young should be learning from are largely absent or have been relegated to a position of unimportance.
Bedford Road is a blended, transgenerational ministry. We did this on purpose. We want to hear the voices of our teens and young adults (and I still consider myself young) but we also need to place a great importance on the voices of the believers of a finer vintage (what I call those believers who are my parents’ age and older). The “old” are not insignificant or unimportant. They are vital to a congregation’s health. They keep the young in balance. They bring maturity into a situation that requires it.
Too churches obsessed with the young culture sacrifice teaching and wisdom at the altar of “butts in seats” and being “relevant.”
Never forget that while some of the apostles were young (like John), it was the old guy with a wife and kids and an elderly mother-in-law who Jesus called the Rock.
Never forget that although the young crazy apostle – Paul of Tarsus – was turning the world upside down, he was always accompanied by an older, more mature companion in the persons of first Barnabas and then Silas.
Never forget that it was the rich young ruler who rejected Jesus and the older, more mature men like Joseph of Arimathea, who accepted him.
There is always a balance.