Wasting the Golden Ager

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A little over a month ago we moved into our new home. It’s an older home with a lot of character and many initial renovation projects needing done. None of them were necessary because of age problems, but essential for customizing our home how we want: painting, tile, ceiling texture, GFI’s, and more painting. After laying most of the tile in our main room, we decided to stay in a hotel for 24 hours to let the floor dry.

If you live in Vegas, and you want a cheap room, your hotel accommodations will probably be at a casino too. However, if you live in Vegas, you don’t like the Strip so you go to a local casino. Every resident in Las Vegas will visit a local casino. Before scoffing, please realize they are hubs for entertainment: movie theaters, bowling alleys, shopping, buffets, food courts, and other accommodations not requiring gambling. We like to bowl at Red Rock. A person can visit a local casino here and never lose a dime to a machine. Imagine a mall with gaming machines in the hallway and a hotel on one end.

I like to peruse Twitter and keep up with the general beat of our culture. We’ve all heard about today’s youth, “They’re entertaining themselves to death.” Friction exists between my children and me when I do not come up with ways to entertain them. “It’s not my job to entertain you boys.” The gaming industry observed the younger generation lacks participation at the gaming tables and machines. To reach the youth, they’ve begun marketing Xbox and other video game events to draw them into the hotel.

In a casino my family sat on a Tuesday morning eating breakfast. Looking around, the place was alive . . . not like the movies portray, but there was a pulse in the place. The buffet and restaurant were full, the omelet guy knew many of the customers by name, and a few of them didn’t say anything about their request, he just made their eggs how they liked them. Walking to the restaurant, there were people at the slot machines, black jack tables, and other gaming machines — Tuesday morning, 9am. There were at least 3 or 4 servers walking around the floor filling drink orders. (For what it’s worth, it was a lot of coffee and water that I saw).

But who filled up the casino? It wasn’t the youth. It wasn’t the 30-50 crowd. It was the retired crowd. There was a lot of silver hair in there. Now, I don’t blame them for being in there and please note, not all of them are gaming. There is a community there. Each of them gets a card, every purchase is recorded and they earn points. Just like using your amazon card to get something free later, that’s them. A card with points earning them rank in a casino acquiring cool features like a private luxury box in the movie theater or free meals. It’s a place for them to gather and fellowship with others like them. I certainly can sympathize with the desire to fellowship with like minded people.

My retired 80 year old friend of mine likes to remind us at our weekly coffee hour, “Once a man, twice a child.” I love the phrase. Here we are criticizing the young while allowing the old to escape. I no longer blame the youth for only wanting to be entertained. Retirement for many seems to be about, “How do I want to be entertained on the road to death?” “We need a home with an RV drive way, a place to bed during the summer and winter, and money to be entertained.”

As believers, we say, “Well as long as their faithful to the Lord and not sinning, then let them enjoy their retirement.” Amen. That doesn’t bother me on one level. But many of us will be quick to criticize this “wasting life with no worship.” But on one level, isn’t this what we’ve asked the Golden Aged to do?

When I scope out evangelicalism . . . The seeker sensitive movement isn’t filled with silver hair (in my city). It’s filled with the youth. A close family member of mine was told they were going to replace him as the young adult Bible study leader because he was too old. I look into youth groups and see young “hip” leaders and Bible studies lead by other “young” leaders. The current trend is to have a young (technological savvy) person lead organizations and to allow the older generation to retire. I’m not saying every church shoves the retired into a room and allows them to have their own study while the younger generation grows the church, but certainly the lack of the older generation in other rooms seems to communicate something.

I’ve watched music change in congregations to a more contemporary style, telling the older generation, “This is what is needed to make the church grow” a.k.a “Deal with it, it’s our preference, you’re on our court now.” “We need to be hip and relevant to the Millennials, so we’re going to get younger.”

And yet, there many of them sit, having walked with the Lord for twice as long as many of us have been alive, shoved into the room and their voice silenced. Many have in essence told them (without saying it), “Go die.”

How foolish we’ve become. “A gray head is a crown of glory; It is found in the way of righteousness” (Proverbs 16:31). In the corner is wisdom, faithfulness, experience, and expertise ready to teach us about walking with a gracious God. Contemplate for a moment your churches’ youth. What do you want them to be? Foolish? I don’t know anyone who says, “I’d love for my teenager to be a foolish, insensible, buffoon.” No, we want them to be sensible, dignified, pure, lovers of what is good, and learn how to walk in Christ. What is the key ingredient? Scripture and the Holy Spirit. Who is the key ingredient? Apostle Paul, I see that hand, what’s your answer?

Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance. Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.

Answer? Our retired brethren. What an anathema on the church to ask them be silent and uninvolved. Instead of trying to accommodate the youth with hip and relevant, tell your youth why then need older men and women to learn from. Do not just ask the youth to learn truth from the retired, but learn why the retired have some of the preferences they do too. Ask the retired to stop playing and invest in the youth. Listen to their preferences and learn from them. The older generation teaching the younger generation . . . if I had to guess, that would seem like a good godly discipleship plan 😉

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Jason Vaughn

About Jason Vaughn

Jason is a graduate of the Master’s Seminary and the pastor of Cornerstone Las Vegas, a Grace Advance church plant. He loves Christ, his wife Kyla, sometimes his kids :), the church, missions, people, and coffee. You can also follow him on his personal blog at shepherdthesheep.com.