There is a tremendous emphasis today to slow down aging or at least look like you’ve hit the paused button on your advancement in years. Secular society has frowned upon many things and one of the main ones is the process of aging. To many, being young is associated with being healthy, free and believe it or not, being educated and wise. You may find that last part hard to believe but let me explain. The idea of someone being “old” represents to many in our society as being out of touch with modern thinking. The elderly seem to be stuck in those olden days when people raised kids differently, ate differently, didn’t go to the gym and seem to understand Apple/Blackberry as fruits. Seems they have nothing more to offer than a short history lesson on how things “were” to make us feel more intelligent and sophisticated. These people are about to die and the era they represent will enter into the grave alongside with them.
Unfortunately, this ideology has leaked into the church. I once heard an individual state that the sign of the impending death of a church is seeing the sea of white heads when you walk in. Churches today are trying to win over the young through a multitude of venues and methodologies. Some are using the ol’ bait them with entertainment trick or attempt to meet their spiritual needs, not with good biblical exposition, but with a multitude of self help programs for every need. The elderly, who are far wiser with their money, are around to pay for this stuff to happen.
The biggest problem about this scenario is that it completely sways from how the bible presents the relationship between the young and the old. Take for instance these three texts:
Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:32 )
Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. (1 Peter 5:5)
Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; 2 The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity. (1 Timothy 5:1-2)
There are many more that we could list but you get the idea. The grey heads, whether men or women, are to be respected and appreciated amongst the people of God. They are far more key to the church than most realize. We have a tendency to separate the young from the elderly and in return the mature. The youth don’t need more programs or entertainment but need to spend some time with the elderly so as to have the wisdom they are acquired through living a Godly life rub off a little on these younger fellas. How can the youth grow to be wise and carry on adult Christian conversations if they’ve never been exposed to them? The bible isn’t just a book to be read but it’s a book to be discussed. Kids don’t just learn by reading books but they learn most by the examples we set and the conversations they overhear. We need to allow our youth to learn from those more mature so that they might eventually be mature themselves.
This also can be related to the importance of parents having biblical discussions with their kids. We have a tendency to ship them off to Sunday School for the morning break as quickly as possible but worship is something that is done as a family and as a congregation. When a man preaches, the parents have a responsibility to find out if the children have properly understood the word given. This may be in a summary form but regardless we should be prepared to have a discussion with our kids. This doesn’t mean that you need to stop having these discussions as an adult. In reality, that’s when you need them most.
To answer the question “Do we need white heads in the church”; we don’t only need them but more importantly we need to use them and expose our youth to them to learn from them.