Just recently, our men had the privilege of hearing from a faithful follower of Christ. As I considered the impact his ministry had on us that morning, one truth among many stood out. He was a man who has walked with God for many years. Unfortunately that value is not always seen or appreciated because of our penchant for younger people.
We are impressed with young men who can preach. We are impressed with young people who are brilliant. But it is not often that we are impressed with and grateful for older men and women of the faith. I want you to know that I am grateful for mature godly men and women. Men who have not only lived out the word but continue to faithfully proclaim it.
For that reason, I would like to state why our Sunday gatherings will benefit from those who are older and more mature in Christ. And notice I am referring to spiritual maturity as what one will most likely see in someone who has walked faithfully with the Lord over a period of time.
So allow me to provide three reasons why I believe older, mature believers are important to the local fellowship.
- The Bible emphasizes the importance of older believers. This is dispersed through several passages. One can imply from 2 Timothy 2:2 that this principle is supported there. Another passage that makes this abundantly clear is found in Titus 2, especially as it relates to the older women teaching the younger women. But what happens when you have just young people practicing life on life? You tend to have a bleeding session for the most part. The only thing they can do consistently is relate to each other. Now these group therapeutic sessions may be nice but they fall short in comparison to the older mentoring or discipling the younger. This is lacking in many places today because the older generation are often looked down upon or a young man or woman is looking for a place where everyone’s hairstyle looks the same or they all dress the same. But the Bible stresses the importance of the older followers of Christ within the local body.
- The Bible emphasizes the importance of a Pattern of godliness. What can a 20 year old tell you about life? Most of their assessments are not based on experience but most likely on probabilities. Especially as one considers overcoming temptation. Or how to trust God when tragedy strikes. Now are there cases where someone who is young may provide insight? Yes, but on a broader scale, that is simply not the norm. A good illustration of this is found in 2 Chronicles chapter 10. Solomon’s son, king Rehoboam sought counsel from his father’s advisors. They were older men who believed Rehoboam needed be reasonable and kind toward the people of Israel. Well as any good researcher would do, Rehoboam sought a second opinion, this time from his young comrades. And what did they say? Did they agree with those “grumpy, sensitive old men” who became too soft in their old age? No, on the contrary as any muscle brained, overpowering bully would do, they said, tell the people that your “little finger is thicker than my father’s loins.” (2 Chron. 10:10b). That was bad advice and what they lacked that the older men had was years of experience under king Solomon. And what does New Testament Scripture have to say about those who are older and wiser in the Lord? The apostle John said this about them: “I am writing to you fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning” (1 John 2:12). And in verse 14, “I have written to you fathers because you know Him who has been from the beginning.” There is a pattern of godliness and faithfulness. They are reliable and trustworthy men, men of dignity who have not wavered. When you look at their lives over the course of several years, you know they are walking in the truth. You can determine that only when they are time tested. That pattern needs to be and can only be seen over time. Older men who are steadfast in the faith are invaluable.
- The Bible emphasizes every age group. Now while I have heard some say they are praying for a revival in the churches or they desire to get the gospel out to sinners, that desire must be grounded in the reality that the gospel reaches people from every age, ethnicity, and background. If your gospel apparently reaches the youth alone or you have some “burden” for a particular age group, how is that possible if you believe God is sovereign in salvation (I am not referring to youth ministry as such but the notion that as a local fellowship or church they have a special mission that targets youths, as if youths are the only ones in need of salvation)? As a servant of a local church, why would God give me a burden for a “particular” age group with no scriptural support that validates such a burden? In fact, Scripture supports every age group that is able to hear the message and comprehend. Everyone who can hear is encouraged to hear. There is no such distinction in age groups. So why would I place those human limitations on it. If the gospel is the power of God unto salvation, it seems obvious to me that my objective is to constantly seek ways to get the message out. I do agree that there are age appropriate ways and creative ways to communicate the message; that goes without saying. Yet when it comes to the local church, nothing is more antithetical to a person’s belief in God’s sovereignty than to think the dynamics of that fellowship will be based on age, (unless he is in a town or region where 85% percent of the population is college age. If that is the case, he should pray for older believers; they will be needed).
So godly, faithful, mature people who have been in the trenches are vital and critical to the ministry. While we are currently blessed with the older attendees, my prayer is that the Lord will continue fill our church with them, as we pray that he would fill our church with youths. They are a blessing, and are not the reason why no one else is coming. If they are mature, they are an asset.