Looking back I’m not quite sure what I was thinking at the beginning of this church planting endeavor. For sure I thought it would be a tough undertaking, one full of difficult decisions and lots of work. However, I knew we had a good team assembled in order to get the job done. Sure most of us were in our 20’s but we had lots of energy. We were going to plant a church or go down trying.
Now that we are two or so years into the church planting effort I have begun to see the perils of having such a young team. We have several 30 year olds, one 40ish year old, and the rest still in their 20’s. Not that young Christians can’t accomplish a great deal if God is a part of what they are doing. The thing is though, that despite our energy we don’t have the deep wisdom and discernment that only comes with age.
There are lots of decisions to be made for a new church plant: what are the closed handed doctrinal issues we’ll hold, what kind of worship music will we play, who handles the money, how do we handle the money, who can be a member, when do we baptize, what kind of lease should we sign, do we join a denomination, should we serve coffee, where will we buy that coffee, how do we attract new members, do we do a children’s sermon etcetera ad infinitum.
We do our best but God help us! There are lots of decisions to make and we covet the wisdom of older Christians.
Therein lies the catch-22 of church planting: You only attract older members by having older members that are already part of your church.
I suppose I can’t really blame the old folks. What 60 year old wants to be pastored by a team of 30 year old elders? What 50 year old wants to worship with the youngsters and their music? It’s so loud, sometimes obnoxious, and borderline irreverent. What family with older children wants to bring their kids to a church with only a few young babies? What 70 year old wants to sit through sermons with cultural references 40 years past the time they quit caring about popular culture?
Despite these obstacles we try to tailor our services in such a way that they would appeal to older generations. We take feed back from older visitors (mainly friends and family) and seek to change what we are doing in order to accommodate a wider variety of ages. We have been told, on more than one occasion, that if we want to attract older members we need to make this or that change, and after discussing that feedback, do our best to make wise decisions.
But alas. We pray that God would give us what we can handle, those whom He wants us to shepherd, and that He would guide our steps down the path He wants us to travel. We praise Him for those he has placed under our care and ask for His blessings of wisdom, discernment, and maturity. Should we gain older Christians only when we ourselves age we will praise Him still.
At the end of the day if God is working through us to further the message of his great Gospel then He will give us just what we need to get the job done. All praise to Him for whatever circumstances we find ourselves in.