On January 23 of this year my mother-in-law, Eleanor Charlotte McConaghy, went to be with the Lord. She was the last of our parents. The 23 year stretch of losing our parents started with my dad in 1998. For Lori and me, it’s the passing of a generation.
Charlotte was an excellent mother-in-law, and it was a privilege for me to preach her funeral. I had excellent material to work with. She was very committed to the Lord and served Him in helping her brother plant a congregation. She also was a good soloist. And with her talents she did a lot of church work behind the scenes.
Charlotte did have a very difficult time when her congregation got a new pastor who rapidly changed the worship format, introducing contemporary worship music. Plus, a pastor who wore sandals rather than dress shoes didn’t set well with her….
A recent Wall Street Journal article was on the divide between older and younger adults. The divide and most negative perspective towards older people were in the northeast and southeast regions of our country. In the latter the divide was most apparent in the Carolinas and Florida–areas with higher concentrations of the elderly.
The article suggested that one problem was the segregation of people by age. The states above have large retirement communities. But this can happen with churches.
Some months ago I read about a church that wanted to reach younger people and made it public that they didn’t want those who were above a certain age, at least not initially. Now perhaps the “older” adults might want control and make decisions that would hinder reaching younger people. And maybe, because I’m older, I do take some offense that a congregation may not want me because of my age….
But I would submit to you that the different generations can help each other. My wife and I are baby boomers, and I think those in our age group can distinguish between our preferences versus correct theology and ethics.
Our parents–older than those of our peers–were born between 1914 and 1925. They were a part of the Great Generation that fought in World War II (both of our dads were veterans) and ultimate produced the baby-boomer generation.
Now I admit, I don’t care to look down and see men’s feet. Personally, if I could find a comfortable pair, I’d probably wear steel toed shoes for protection. I’m not a tattooed guy. I prefer wearing my gold watch with my wedding ring on my left hand and my class ring on my right. And chinos are much more comfortable with their soft cotton feel, than jeans with slits. But those are preferences; I know that.
For believers in Jesus and for congregations, I believe we need to know and interact with each other. “Iron sharpens iron” (Prov. 27:17). The conversations may not always seem comfortable, be we can learn from one another and make better decisions.
Ashton C. Smith
You may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. My initial consultation for your congregation is free.