As a younger guy who is all about getting youth and young adults active in the work of the kingdom, I’m convinced older people still have a vital role – beyond vocational retirement – to play in the life of any local church.
The church needs young people to survive, but it needs older people to thrive. These are the gifts I’ve received from Nana, my wife’s octogenarian grandmother, who has the energy of people half her age and uses it for the work of the kingdom through her local church and missions:
1. Prayer. If you have a pulse and a conscience, you can pray for the life of the church and the work of the kingdom. James 5:16 tells us that the prayers of a righteous person are powerful and effective – at any age!
2. Excitement. Today’s church looks different from that of 50 years ago. But, the optimism of seniors about what God is doing is contagious.
3. Welcome. Walking into a strange church on a Sunday morning is an unnerving thing, but a warm welcome is the greatest remedy. Older people who know my name, ask how I’m doing, and take an interest in me make church more irresistible than any ministry program or
evangelism technique could.
4. Equipping. Older saints have been through many of the storms the church faces today, struggling to engage volunteers, stir up support for mission, or survive church divisions. When they share their stories, seniors gracefully pepper us with nuggets of wisdom mined through experience.
5. Blessing. How we “do” church will never return to how it used to be. When our older members release a new generation to present the message of Jesus – the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8) – in a fresh way, blessings flow in all directions.
It would be amazing if a host of saintly older people in our churches embraced the younger folk, saying, “It’s a bit louder than I’m used to and it’s outside my comfort zone, but praise God that he is working in a new generation of believers to reach our city for Jesus.”
Kevin Carrigan is interim pastor of youth and pastor of young adults and worship at Culloden MB Church, Vancouver. A version of this article first appeared on the church blog at www.cullodenchurch.com.