Friday, February 26, 2010

The Benefits of a Gray Haired Congregation.

1 Peter 1:13-15 (ESV)
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. [14] As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, [15] but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,

The Greek Reads gird up the loins of your mind for action. The image is a jock strap, a rather vulgar metaphor by today’s standards. In Greek culture it is my understanding anyway, most sports were played in the nude. This is really a reference to getting ready for battle. Gird up your loins. Gird up the loins of your mind. The Christian faith is an intellectual faith. It isn’t that intellectualism is the sum total of faith, but Christianity does not ask you to check your brains at the door. Rather it invites you to use your intellect, it invites you to study, it invites you to debate. It asks you to use your head, and not the one normally reserved for the jock strap. Rather it asks you to be sober minded about those things, not being conformed to the passions of your former ignorance.
Be sober-minded, that is have a clear head, count the cost, weigh it all out, and with that sober mind set you hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. This is the opposite of what happens in so many churches on Sunday morning today. Emotionalism rules the day. People go to church to be “up-lifted” by which they usually mean they want some sort of ecstatic experience. They want an emotional high. Much of the Music penned for worship these days, passing for Christian Music, is about this, creating an emotional high, and often a rather superficial high. And it is this that is meant to be the tool for “conversion.” But this doesn’t contribute very well to maturity. Perhaps that is why you don’t see very much gray hair in those congregations.
I hear it, mostly from gray headed people themselves, that there is too much gray hair in our congregations. I’m not all that sure what they are talking about as I’m kind of tied down to one congregation these days on Sunday morning, and I see a wonderful mix of the generations there. But I would think there has to be something to a congregation with a lot of gray hair. If I were looking for a congregation as a young person myself, I think I might look for a congregation with an abundance of gray hair. We are to grow in Christ and mature, and Christianity puts a big emphasis on respecting our elders. I don’t know how much I could learn about maturing from another 30 something, or someone younger than that. I don’t know how much my children could learn from them either. But to have an abundance of gray hairs for them to learn from, now that is a blessing. At least, I thought it was a blessing when I was growing up. My dad used to farm me out to the older people in the congregation to do odd jobs for them etc. I learned a lot from them. Still see them now and again. An old man with gray hair can do more to keep your kids off of drugs, and from knocking up his girlfriend then any youth group, believe me. You might not think they have that much in common, well they have more than you would no, and a lot more wisdom than the 30 something soccer coach.


Brigitte said...

Speaking of older people, I got a lot out of spending much time with my grandparents, (committed pietists though they were.)

As an aside on the pietism, I was thinking yesterday about what Rev. Bugbee said about a "biblical crisis" in our church currently. We look at the problems with ELCA, etc. and say: we won't have that! But we have an appalling biblical illiteracy. He wants all members in Sunday School and Bible class which is not scheduled to run at the same time as the service. He thinks the situation is appalling.

This is why I really appreciate what Bror is doing here; just go right through the Bible.

In the pietistic circles within the state church of my grandparents, if nothing else, we learned the Bible thoroughly. I generally knew when someone was preaching something wrong because we knew the Bible pretty well.

Possibly I have better than average discernment but maybe most people figure this out for themselves seeing that they cannot rely on their experiences or conduct for comfort. Or else the dissonance and struggle makes the theologian in us.

We could probably spend a lot less time being polemical if we read the Bible more, anyhow.

In terms of older and greying congregations, it always makes me sad not to see a good mix of ages. In terms of singing and choirs and bands of all kinds and styles, it makes me sad not to see all kinds of people involved in one way and another.

At the larger, happy-clappier type church around here, even the older people sing in the band. I think that's nice.

You are right about the maturity of the older generation and the benefits of associating with it. People could ditch most of their psychiatrist, etc. if they attached themselves to a mature Christian mother/father in the Lord. This is a main benefit of church. We belong to each other. The youth's youth belong to the old and brighten their days and the old's wisdom and warmth belongs to the young.

Bror Erickson said...

I look back fondly on all the older people that I got to know at church. I didn't always live close to my grandparents. It was funny though, I would get into long conversations about all sorts of things with the older people in church. And it was good.

Steve Martin said...

I always related better to older people.

A good mix (though) is a good picture of our congregation, small as it is.