An Open Letter to Elderly Christians
Dear Elderly Christian,
I know you don’t like being called elderly, so let’s start with me begging your pardon for not coming up with a better word to describe your current phase of life (it’s better than “old,” right?). Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I need to ask you a favor: please get off the sidelines and get back into the game.
Unless you attend weekly services at a nursing home, there’s a good chance that you’ve got at least one person in your church who’s a child, a teenager, a Millennial, or a member of Generations X or Y; and believe it or not, we need you.
What We’re Dealing With
So many of the young people you see today are floundering. Yes, we look confident as we snap selfies on street corners and over-publicize ourselves in social media, but the truth is, we’re clueless. We’ve grown up in a world where a spouse is as expendable as a high school boyfriend or girlfriend, where having tens of thousands of dollars of debt is par for the course, and where watching strangers have intercourse is a normal part of life.
You, on the other hand, come from a generation where divorce was something scandalous, where you didn’t buy something unless you had the money for it, and where sex was something you were only supposed to do with the person you married. Basically, you came from a world where boundaries were something that mattered. I know that it was a deeply flawed world in some ways – just ask any of the African-Americans who grew up in it – but nonetheless, it was a world influenced by the Greatest Generation, a world where there was a basic agreement that each individual’s personal satisfaction didn’t trump society’s need for order and fidelity.
So now we have a generation of men and women living in a world that is just as likely to be influenced by a tweet as it is 2000-year-old texts, and we are in desperate need of your wisdom. We need to hear your raspy old voice start sentences with, “When I was a boy…” But instead, so many of you are sitting at home watching football on Thursday night rather than joining the young men’s Bible study. You’re spending every spare minute of your time with your grandkids rather than inviting young people over for dinner.
This is Bigger Than Age
I get why you keep your distance though. You don’t think we are interested in what you’ve got to say – and maybe a lot of us aren’t. But that didn’t stop you from forcing your wisdom on your teenagers back in the day – why? Because that was the next generation of your family. You loved them too much to leave them on their own.
Well, your immediate family may be all grown up, but you’re still in the family of God; and the Scriptures specifically command “you who are younger” to “be subject to the elders” (1 Peter 5:5). We can’t be subject to you and your wisdom if you’ve completely checked out on us and the Church.
Seriously, I get it: it’s hard to believe we want you in our lives, but this isn’t about what we want – this is about what we need, and what we need is some older brothers and sisters to come in and wrap their arms around us and give us the wisdom that we are so desperately lacking. This is about a generation that is crying out for fathers and mothers to step in and lead, because we grew up in a world where our fathers were absent and our mothers were oftentimes exhausted from trying to be two parents at one time.
This is about loving Jesus so much that you love His children – even the children who have grown up and are in their 20s and 30s. This is about stepping up and doing your part in pushing back against the assault by the world, the flesh, and the devil on the younger members of the Church. Because whether we want you or not, we need you to lay down your pride and your golf clubs and your knitting needles and teach us some of the lessons you learned from Jesus before we were born.
Your younger brothers and sisters in Christ