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Is Your Church Too Old — Or Too Young?

What you are missing by attending a church that caters to the needs of your generation.

Paula Bolyard


August 25, 2013 - 3:00 pm
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Several years ago, while we were vacationing in Florida, our family visited a church and inadvertently wandered into what can only be described as the last rites being administered to the congregation. Instead of meeting in the sanctuary of the beautiful, historic church, members assembled in the basement — because they could not afford to pay to air condition the entire building. We awkwardly sat through an uncomfortable meeting at which the church members (the majority over 50) agreed to rent out the main part of the building on Sundays to a younger group of church members who had broken off from the main church. It appeared that neither side would compromise on the worship style and church growth philosophy. There may have been other, more substantive doctrinal differences at play — we were only privy to the final vote on what had obviously been a long, drawn-out family squabble — but the sad episode gave us insight into the dangers of a church that does not encourage or appreciate generational diversity.

Not very long after that church visit, our family found it necessary to change churches. It was an agonizing decision after nearly 20 years at the same church. We had spent the early years of our marriage  immersed in the seeker-sensitive mega church culture, raising our children alongside other families in similar circumstances. Now we were suddenly  learning to become — of all things — Baptists.

Believing that church should be a full-participation sport with no bench sitters, our family immediately plunged into the full range of activities at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church — youth group for the kids, Sunday school for everyone, church Sunday mornings and evenings, and midweek prayer meeting.

Those early months of midweek prayer meetings were grueling. I had been out of the habit of spending time in corporate prayer and the discipline of praying for people I didn’t know was a challenge for my media-saturated diminished attention span. At one of the first prayer meetings, though, a prayer request jolted me out of my inattention and made me realize that we had spent the last 20 years more or less in an age-segregated bubble: “I would appreciate your prayers. I have to turn my wife every two hours to keep her from getting bed sores and things are kind of hard right now.” The man, in his 80s, was caring for his bedridden wife at home and struggled to keep up with the demands. I was touched and heartbroken. I was inspired by the man’s love and dedication to his wife and saddened by his suffering.

But I was also saddened at what we had missed in our years of age-segregated church.

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All Comments   (3)
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"Titus 2 gives us the biblical pattern for inter-generational churches:"

Paula, I have to disagree with this. Or at least, with what it seems to imply.

Titus 2 gives us the biblical pattern for churches. No modifier needed. It was never God's plan for us to have a menu approach to church. "I'll have a little of this, and some of that, and a side dish of...."

In Scripture, there are just... churches. Normal churches. Not "seeker friendly" or "traditional" or "forward looking" or any of that nonsense. Families, with all the homogeneity and diversity and happy times and conflicts that goes with that territory.

We've broken it.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Mark v,

I don't think we disagree. I'm not advocating an affirmative action program for churches so they can check off some boxes. But I don't see how the biblical model of discipleship (older to younger) can be accomplished without an inter-generational church. A church that appeals only to a certain demographic will miss out on that blessing and, frankly, will be unable to adequately obey that biblical command.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Paula, you rocked that boat, in a needed way. Too many so called churches are succumbing to societal forces to divide instead of unite us on the fundamentals of living out a faith in Christ. Anything that destroys the family, as in the body of believers or the members of our household shall be fought against together. Also, pastors require all the prayer and support we can give them to be the third strand of the cord. Sadly, in this era, men with fellow men and women bonding to other women avoid accountability like it is the plague. Iron sharpens iron. It always will. Revival is way, way overdue.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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