These are tough times for seniors, and not just in society. Churches are slowly and, hopefully unwittingly, marginalizing seniors, relegating them to socials and pot luck suppers. Changes are made to service times and styles to attract the youth, who are perceived to be the future of the church. In fact, a recent denominational newsletter stated, “The Church’s greatest assets are its children.” True, young people, when properly trained, become a vital part of the church, but the key concept here is “training.” Who will do the training?
God’s Word is abundantly clear: the older folks (preferably parents) are to train the next generation of believers. Children play a very minor role in the Scriptures and certainly, with the exception of King Josiah, do not assume leadership or primary positions. In both Old and New Testaments, the elders of the population are responsible for governing, training, and setting the example for the younger crowd.
In Genesis 18:19, the Lord said, “For I have chosen (Abraham), so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.” Notice that the fulfillment of the Lord’s promises was conditioned upon Abraham directing his children and household, and his direction was not to be merely words but lifestyle. Talk about Lifestyles Over 50 (the magazine in which this was published)! Abraham was 100 years old when he had his first child, and at that age was not cast aside, but was responsible for training the future generations!
Psalm 71 could very easily be Abraham’s autobiography. Consider verses 17–21:
Since my youth, O God, you have taught me,
and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.
Even when I am old and gray,
do not forsake me, O God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
your might to all who are to come.
Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God,
you who have done great things.
Who, O God, is like you?
Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter,
you will restore my life again;
from the depths of the earth
you will again bring me up.
You will increase my honor
and comfort me once again.
The Psalmist had been through bitter trials, yet he literally lived to tell younger generations about the Lord!
However, we older folks have to learn, too, so we CAN teach the kids! Pastor Titus was told by Paul what to teach in Titus 2:1–4, which includes sound doctrine and good character. This equips the older men and women to teach the younger men and women. There is no room here for learning from society or psychology or the streets or Oprah.
We also learn from our own experiences and the experiences of others. In fact, the records of the Old Testament were written so we could learn from them (1 Corinthians 10:11). This is why seniors can say, “Been there, done that” or can point young people to Bible characters that they can learn from.
Seniors can never overestimate their importance in the church. And churches should never underestimate them, either. Churches must not only provide opportunities for seniors to grow no matter how old they are; they should take every opportunity to pair them up to mentor young people. Leaders aren’t called “elders” for nothing! As society swirls faster and faster away from traditions and truth, seniors must stand as lighthouses to guide youth through troubled waters, and as pillars to which the young can tie their hopes and desires, to keep them from drifting away.
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