For the multi-generational church to exist, both young and old must compromise with one another. Older must understand where the younger are coming from and younger need to understand the older. For this post, I want to suggest 4 ways the younger can compromise and serve the older members of a local church and I will reverse this idea in a future post. For now, the younger can serve the older by…
1) Encouraging shorter services and sermons. For those who listen to 25 minute sermons and hour-long services, you may not get this one. However, if you are in a church that loves to hear God’s Word preached for longer periods and want more and more of it, one hour sermons and two-hour services are common. This is good and healthy in a lot of ways, but a two-hour service can be a challenge for an elderly person to sit through, especially if they are sitting on hard, old, wooden pews like in our church. Be mindful of how long your services are and be sensitive to those who might want to sit longer, but physically cannot.
2) Sing hymns with controlled musical volume. The most common complaint of older members at predominately younger congregations is the lack of hymns sung and how loud the music is. A good compromise is to sing some hymns (which I would recommend anyway), but more than that, do not allow the music to reach a painful level. This is a good idea regardless as one of the chief purposes in congregational singing is to hear one another sing.
3) Start and end services on time. Few things irritate older members than services not starting on time, usually because they have been there 10-15 early while the under 30 crowd drags in 10-15 minutes late. One of the best ways to serve older members if you are a young pastor is to start on time, and end when you say you will end. Many elderly members have medications that need to be taken with food at a certain time after church and ending on time is a great way to serve them. If you are a younger church member, be disciplined to be there a few minutes early. I promise you will have some opportunity to visit with the older members as they will be there plenty early.
4) Escort elderly to their car. It is very easy to gravitate to your friends and social network immediately following the service. It requires a sacrificial servant’s heart to leave your conversations with your peers to help an elderly lady to her car after the service. Look for those opportunities. They are there if you have elderly folks in your church. They won’t ask, but they will appreciate the help if you offer.
One of the best ways to unite older and younger in the local church is for the older and younger to serve each other. Don’t underestimate the impact the younger can have on winning the older with simple, but sacrificial efforts like these. Older compromising to serve the younger will be a future post.