10 Blessings of Being Old and Ugly in the Church

From a post by Doug Lawrence, former Minister of Worship at two of the largest Presbyterian churches (PCUSA) in the country. In 2007 he founded and continues to serve as CEO of Speaking as a Performing Art

I like young people! Their skin looks like it’s still in its original blister pack. They can walk up and down stairs without grabbing the railing. They have GREAT teeth! In the modern church they are particularly revered because they bring the average age down to like…say…50. But, their prime value to the church is that they are NOT old!

I like old folks too, but not as much. They don’t seem to require it. They’re rarely the hippest, but almost always the wisest. They know that some things are difficult and that some things are impossible and they have reconciled themselves to that. Oh, and they do have compromised teeth. On the bright side, there are definite perks for old folks in the church. So, if you’re over 30, take joy in this partial list of “bennies.”

10 blessings of being old (ugly is optional) in the church…..

1. When the pastor asks you if you enjoyed his sermon, you can say, “Incredible,” and mean it, because your hearing aid batteries have been dead for weeks.
2. You get handicapped spaces in the 5,000 car parking lot.
3. You will never be asked to show up for a sound check because you will probably never be invited to be on the platform.
4. You can wear the same clothes every week and not be judged.
5. You will stop being asked to serve on the elder board and therefore won’t have to hear the same initiatives you heard in 1980…oh, and in 1990.

6. You may be asked by a 20 something how to get through a crisis. It will build a relationship that links you with a generation that was pretty sure they didn’t need you.
7. You will probably be less anxious about what’s going on in your church because you’ve lived through every possible iteration many times over during your years there.
8. People who are going through sickness, loss, and struggle will most likely look to your elder “presence” for solace. It may be that the greatest ministry you will ever have in your lifetime will come at the end of it.
9. You will either rail against or embrace the cultural changes in your church, but, either way, marketing and innovation will never define your faith. THAT is a true blessing!
10. You will be able to say to someone much younger than you, when they come to complain about something they are uncomfortable with in the church, “Hang in there…change is inevitable, your comfort isn’t!”

Every week I have contact with a group of people in their 70s and 80s. I’ve been in some form of ministry to older generations most of my life. I used to think I was doing them a favor. The reality is, older people often do the giving and, if we’re real smart, we’ll receive what they have to offer.

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