Recently I sat across a table sharing breakfast with an older man. We get together regularly to chat about church and leadership stuff. At one point during the conversation he paid me a great compliment. As I sipped on my coffee he said, “you know your weakness? You know where you are weak? Experience.” Over the last 18 months of our journey together as your pastor I have repeated over and over again a few ideas that I hold as deep convictions. One of those is that we must be a multigenerational church. If we ever become a church of 20 and 30 year-olds then we have failed. (I feel a great urge to preach, but for sake of your time and the length of this blog, I’ll move on.)
Several Sunday’s ago I had a conversation with an older woman. After discussing our still impending birth of Brooklyn the conversation turned to this multigenerational church idea. The gist of her curiosity was what part I thought the older generation played; if all our worship guys were under 35, only one staff member was over 35, our Lead Pastor was 28 and even one of elders was in his 30s.
What I told her was simple; “we need you!”
(Please notice that doesn’t say, “We need your money.” I mean I wont’ refuse your money, but that’s not why we need you. How sad and meaningless it would be to believe anyone needed you for only your money.)
We need your wisdom and experience, for we have not journey the road you have. We need you to believe in us, for the burden God has place on us all is big. We need you to be faithful to your spouse, for our marriage is hard. We need you to love our kids, for parenting is hard. We need you to trust us, for God has called us. We need you to invest in us, for few care enough to. We need you to share stories with us, for we find strength in our heritage. We need you to be flexible with us, for we will break something. We need you to correct us when we lose our way, for we have never journeyed this path before. We need you to be patient with us, for we are young, arrogant and consumed with passion. We need you to release us, for the world is in desperate need. We need you to love us unconditionally, for few will. We need you to forgive us, for we will mess up. We need you! We need your lives! We need your investment! We need you!
The church only functions properly when every person plays his or her part. No matter your age, never believe the lie that you are a person with out a part to play. I am only here, because of the great investment of older men and women who have believed in me and invested in me when I did not deserve it; older people who believed that God had called them to pass the baton. I stand on the strong shoulders of men and women like this.
Thereon Daniels; my first pastor. A faithful man of God who walked through great tragedy in our family with us. Pastor Ford; my children’s pastor. A man whose love and belief in many is changing a generation. Shan Moyers; who saw a rambunctious, loud and immature 8th grader craving to be liked and knew what God wanted to do in him. For time in his office “crafting” the greatest 45 second communion meditation anyone had ever heard. Mary Weinbender; who told me as a sophomore that if I was going to be a pastor I better start acting like it now. Who never gave up on me through all the times that I didn’t act like that man I was called to be. Joe Presler; who painfully tolerated the most strong headed and unruly high-schooler. He trusted me to lead a bible study, teach at youth group and even preach on a Sunday (even if it wasn’t the best). Stan Peterson; who led me. Who taught me what it was to be a pastor. Who invested in me. Who released me. Who believed in me enough to trust me with his reputation. Our Elders; five men who saw a lot of rough edges, but believed God was calling. Five men who are patient with me, who correct me, who walk with me, who encourage me, who believe in me, who release me, who clean up my messes with me.
Let me leave you with two quotes. No one is quite sure who said this first quote. “If you are not dead, you are not done!” And for the final word, a little scripture to meditate on: Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come. Psalm 71:18