Realizing What We Have
Today I had the gift of spending the morning with Harley, one of the long-term pillars of Mountair church where I’ve begun as pastor. We went to visit a few of the people who have been a part of the church for years and are no longer able to get around. Harley bought me lunch and as we sat and talked I was struck by the depth of his faith, wisdom, experience, compassion, and knowledge. I have already had the opportunity to interact with many people at Mountair who are full of some of these same characteristics. It is a church of people who are now later in life and have given themselves to following Christ for many years.
At some point this morning I was also confronted by the travesty of how older people are treated in American Christianity. We revere churches that are able to attract the young. We are 0ften on the lookout for the next young Christian leader. We develop ministries that seldom place high importance on the contributions of the elders. I have been guilty of some of these things, and in two weeks here I am already realizing how much we are cheating the church by largely dismissing the elders of the faith.
I realize these are blanket statements that are not true everywhere and are only true to varying extents. However, if the body of Christ is truly a family, then it will be composed of all age groups, all with significant things to contribute to the whole. I hate when youth are boxed in as “just youth” and are not allowed to participate in the life of a church as valued parts of the whole. In the same way, it seems churches often revere the elders (not the office of elder, but older people) more as examples than as participants–more like an artifact than a part of the body.
My time at Mountair is already changing me and helping me to see the absolute wealth that is available to the church through the elders in our churches. We will all be better followers of Christ as we value each other in practice, not just in word.