The Church of our God is made up of people of all ages. Looking at the congregation of a local church, you see them all, from the youngest to people of advanced age.
We who have turned to the senior’s page have already passed through the various age groups. A carefree childhood and challenging adolescence are already long behind us. We have already been where others want to go. Words like school, vocational training, marriage, family, and building a house are known to us. What has remained are memories. The fact is, we have experienced a lot, learned a lot, and consequently are able to speak about it.
Considering the broad spectrum of a community, we are already in the last category, the senior group. No, we are not sitting around, nor are we necessarily waiting for death, although with hope we are waiting for the Lord. As far as the church is concerned, we are still there, and we belong. And that is not to be overlooked.
In the life of the church, we have been there over the years and have witnessed the various stages, from Sunday School to where we are now. For many years we have worked, prayed, sacrificed, prayed, and hoped. We have tried to fill our place conscientiously and faithfully. We have placed ourselves under the burden and, where required, carried the responsibility. Looking back on the past, some often speak of “the good old days.” We owe thanks to the Lord for everything.
In the meantime, younger people have taken over responsibility in the congregation and are filling the positions we once occupied. The change was not so easy and sometimes even became a challenge for us. Just then, because of our years, insight, knowledge, and experience, it is time to give up our place. At this point, we have to be careful not to let the “handover” be our fate. It is simply the course of history that involves this taking over and letting go. We must not forget that when we were entrusted with positions, we were also young and probably had neither experience nor maturity.
We no longer hold positions today. The time has passed. We are no longer on the church trustee board, no longer teachers of the Sunday School children, no longer sing in the choir, are no longer in charge of the church kitchen, and so on. No longer – and we have already come to terms with that. We are already on the sidelines and sometimes feel like “spectators.” Our advice is no longer sought. And we are often no longer in the picture either. Someone once described it like this: “We are kind of on the ‘side-track.’” But this should not make us sink into melancholy. On the contrary, we want to make the most of the time still given to us (Ephesians 5:16) and be a blessing.
You ask: What else can we do? That is already a good question. Whoever asks it takes the first step in the right direction. The question expresses that we do not only want to exist, nor only want to be there; rather, we want to make a difference. And that’s the way it should be. Let me give you some points on how this can happen in a practical way. Incidentally, it happens not only by what we do but sometimes also by what we do not do.
Beware of criticism – In a youth meeting, we were covering the topic of “temptations” and talking about the temptations of different age groups. When I asked if older believers had temptations, the young people had to think first. Then someone said, “I think older people have temptations to criticize.” None of us wants to go down in history as critics or complainers; we should not be remembered as negative. Of course, there is also an uplifting criticism that should be lovingly given at the right moment and to the right person. Negative criticism rarely changes a situation. There are better methods, such as prayer.
Support the church in prayer – We probably have more time than ever before; we have so much time that we are often bored. This is an opportunity to participate. Prayer accomplishes more than criticism. Never underestimate the power of prayer. I once read, “Prayer is an opportunity beyond compare, because through prayer we can change everything: people, matters, hardships, circumstances – prayer has infinite power!” – The lyrics of a song are, “Turn your worries into prayer.” Pray for God to bless the pastor, Sunday School teachers, board members, choir director. Pray for a deepening of spiritual life in the congregation.
Be a role model – We are being watched. People watch us and take note of our reactions and behavior. It is a good opportunity to lead by example and thereby make a good impact. It is useless to complain about the lack of prayer in church life and not pray. Be an example in praying, in offering, in giving thanks, in attending church services, in supporting others, in trusting God, in living out the Word of God – indeed, virtually in all areas.
Don’t lack in encouragement – This can be done by things that seem almost incidental, such as a handshake, a smile, a kind word, a little note, or even a phone call. I was holding church services at a location when an older sister, while saying goodbye, said, “I still need to talk to you.” She drew me aside as if to tell me a great secret. I heard these words, “I just wanted to tell you that I pray for you every day.” Through one sentence, she encouraged me tremendously. At a church, a brother gave me a sum of money and asked me to buy the young people an ice cream after youth meeting and tell them how grateful he was for them. The youth understood.
Brother, sister, we still have opportunity to be a blessing. You are needed. You could make a difference in the lives of the coming generation. Why don’t you talk to your Lord about it and let the Spirit of God guide you.