Monday, January 09, 2006

"Ageism" in the Church

This post by Tim Challies highlights an increasingly-serious problem within Evangelical churches: the marginalization or exclusion of the elderly. Challies offers several examples of the great esteem that Scripture gives to the elderly, and he notes that this high regard is a direct affront to the prevailing youth-culture which permeates our churches. He writes:
A clear picture emerges from the pages of Scripture. That God honors age above youth does not mean that God despises youth and that He honors all elderly people. But a person who has lived a long life of dedicated service to God, walking in the paths of wisdom, is surely worthy of higher honor than the youth who has only just begun.

And so we need to ask a question about the church. Does the church honor the Bible in honoring age, or does the church instead honor youth? Or are we a hard-faced church that does not respect the elderly? [See Deuteronomy 28:50, ESV]

Again, this does not mean that younger Christians have no contribution to make within their churches and communities. Far from it! However, as Evangelicals continue to discuss and explore new ways of "doing church" in the larger societal context, the sad truth is that the wisdom of the elderly rarely has a voice in the dialogue or even a place at the table.

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