I have a bone to pick with two groups in the local church. The first is with those who are so intent on preserving the past that they do not allow the church to move forward into the future. It is a recipe for a slow death and a slide into irrelevance. In fact, a focus on the past is one of the hallmarks of an institutional church that is inward looking and protective of anything that threatens the status quo. The past is the past and is not the path to the future.
The second is bone to pick is with those in the church (often pastors and leaders) who exclusively focus on the future to the marginalization of the past. Here are leaders who in their drive to be relevant to the next generation focus all energies and programming to the next generation at the expense of those who have come before - think older than 55. Just as the first group marginalizes the next generation, this group marginalizes the prior generation and have an attitude of, be flexible, get with it or find another place to worship.
Neither option is balanced and both marginalize people that God loves and are important to Him.
I believe that we ought to honor the past while building for the future. Honoring the past means that we listen to the older generations who built the church, listen to their perspectives, seek to meet their needs and actively work to engage them in mentoring and coaching the younger generations. Because they are not the future does not mean they are no longer relevant and all of us find ourselves in that category sooner than later as we age.
Building for the future is absolutely critical as our challenge in the church is always to reach the next generation. That will mean that our ministry needs to be relevant to those upcoming generations. But, not to the marginalization of those who have come before. It saddens me when in our pragmatic culture we are willing to marginalize whole segments of our churches because they don't meet our targeted audience. I just cannot see Jesus doing that.
I talk to many seniors in local congregations who feel marginalized and unimportant to the ministry of the church. And I am not talking about selfish people. They simply wish the church cared about all people rather than some people. They want the next generation reached for Jesus but also want to be valued and engaged. It is all about honoring the past while building for the future.
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