Giving Up Your Pew

Are you ready to retire? Are you ready to receive your token of appreciation for years of service, dedication, and loyalty; to receive your gold watch? Are you prepared to share your final thoughts with friends? Have you prepared some parting words of encouragement for those whom will walk in your footsteps, fill your shoes and sit in your seat?

It took you quite a few years to get where you were. You’ve been there for some good many years. You will miss not meeting with the others each week. You’ll miss you’re your favorite seat. It was the perfect seat; from which you were able to hear so clearly everything happening around you. It was showered in just the right amount of window light; not too bright, not too dark.

While in your seat, you were never too chilled; never too warm. It was the perhaps the best seat in the building. Your field of vision was never obstructed. Are you ready to give it up? Are you prepared to give it up to someone who deserves it, someone who’s been waiting years? Are you ready to give it up to some one more youthful, full of energy and drive?

You might now want to take your seat for a moment. Because, I’m not describing retirement from your place of work. I’m not necessarily describing your retirement from a business that you built from the ground up. No, I am describing your retirement from church.

Yes, that’s right, this is a retirement party the church members are throwing you because you’ve reached that certain age. It’s been a long time coming. Your church members really didn’t gift you a gold watch; no, it was a gold cross. It was the same gold cross that all church parishioners received when they had reached that certain age; the age of retirement from attending church.

It wasn’t written in any of the church bylaws. No, it was simply an unspoken reality that was reached when the elder parishioners were simply past their prime. The years have made them intolerant, impatient, even frustrated by the younger, more energized church youth. Truly, no one knows for sure when the practice of retiring church parishioners began, yet it’s been the church’s practice for decades.

The practice had come about due to the inability of the elder parishioners to include the younger ones in common church functions. The younger ones weren’t invited to give their input about church life. All the church committees were made up of elders. All the church’s social and liturgical events were decided upon and appointed by the elder parishioners.

The vibrant, eager, Spirit-filled youth of the church were always held down; kept back. The different generations could never agree on much, not even the music choices. The elders simply felt that the youth of the church were just spiritually immature; they didn’t know any better.

They couldn’t agree even in manners to reach out to their community in services. The elder parishioners were tired, were spent. The elder parishioners were content with the status quo. They were content with the hymns that they’ve been singing for generations. They had become lukewarm. Though they had given their fire and best years to the church, it had come time for them to pass the reigns to the more energized, more youthful ones.

Is the short story I’ve created here very far off? Could congregations expect members to retire at a certain age; to make way for the more youthful, more energetic members? What does your church do to include its young people? I certainly recall from my younger days how the church worked. There was an adult program and there was a youth program, and rarely shall the two mix.

Is your church ready to take the next step? Is your church able to bring together the generations? From my personal observations, the church still has a long way to go to include its younger parishioners. Mind you, I believe big strides have taken place over the years, but the generation gaps in church are still wide.

I am not suggesting here, that churches bend or extinguish true biblical teaching to attract different generations, but I do heartily agree that many churches need to stop digging their heels in when it comes to continuing many of our “non-biblical” traditions. Whether it’s about the style of our worship or the style of our music, we need to see that it’s all about worshipping and glorifying God through Jesus Christ.

The music might get someone in to church. The worship style might get someone in to church, but the reason for going to church is to glorify God and we must do everything possible to include every spirit-filled person regardless of their youthfulness. Are you ready to embrace the younger generation at church? Are you ready to start building the younger generation up in the church?

**My article here is based on an article published on ChurchLeaders website, (9-12-14) with authorship credited only to a staff writer;

Article references Darren Patrick (Church Consultant)

It’s about God’s Spirit, Not Your Age

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