Thursday, April 1, 2010

Feeling cheated...

I was pondering today my relationship with a lot of the people in our church. The majority of our congregation is in their 70's, 80's and we even have a few in their 90's. My pastor often criticizes the fact that I don't have a strong enough relationship with them, and I was thinking, "Well, it's hard, they're old enough to be my grandparents." We have not 1 but 2 generations that separate us. It was my parents who were protesting Vietnam while they were trying to keep the reigns on their children. I was in the 3rd grade during the first gulf war, many of them were in the 3rd grade during WWII. They were raised during the industrial revolution, me during the "technilogical" revolution. What we have in common is a love for Jesus, but most of the time our differences stand-out like a sore thumb. I love raising my children in a small multi-generational church, but I think it's unrealistic to think I'm going to become friends with them. What do you think?

People are living longer and longer. We have a woman who is 50 and regularly attends church with her grandmother. Therefore, the older generations of older congregations are holding onto the baton longer and longer which leaves people like Richard and I who are in their later 20's ready to lead and having no place to do it. It leads to frustration and when we leave those emotions unchecked they lead to sin. In the book I'm reading: the Relationship Principles of Jesus Tom Holladay suggests that we deal with that emotion by cutting off the circumstance. (Matt 5:30). What would that look like in this scenario? I think it has looked like the surge of new churches that started in the 80's and is still taking place today. Again, what do you think? I think we end up with churches like Richard's aunt's - 4,000 members and not one over the age of 60. It saddens me to think children in that congregation are missing out on the benefit of having extra-grandparents.

I also wonder what it will be like for me as I age. As the television cartoon the Jetsons becomes more of a reality I'm beginning to think hover-crafts and warp zones aren't so far off. Will I roll with the changes or gravitate to the familiar? Right now I like the music Evelyn likes, but I also like the music my parents like. At the youth ministry convention I attended 2 guys in their early 60's were laying down worship music in funky grooves and I found myself digging it and wishing my parents were there. Some of my best friends are in their 40's and I love their fellowship. I guess my point is that I connect easily with people 1 generation away, in either direction, but find it challenging when 2 or even 3 come between us.

Lastly, all this thinking led me to think about my grandparents, in particular my grandmother. She died 16 years ago on April 5th. I won't mention it then because it's also my mom's birthday and I'd rather celebrate my mom's life than my grandmother's death. But there are days where I feel cheated, she was my last grandparent and she died when I was 12. I think she'd be 82 and would have lived to meet my kids and several of my cousins. I wish I could end this with some great conclusion, but I don't have one. I love the fact that we have so many generations living amongst us, feel cheated that I didn't have this in my life, but am frustrated by what this means for the life of our congregation.
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1 comment:

Amanda said...

I think one of the reasons I have trouble relating with the elderly is because most of my grandparents died when I was fairly young as well. But after reading the book Stepping Heavenward, I felt more of a need to minister to the elderly. However, I understand with three small children the task seems daunting--especially if you're not really sure the people would enjoy a nice dinner at your house while Gigi crawls under the table and another shouts about poop or something. has to be lonely, and there is a worthwhile past time in spending time with those so near to their destination. Often older Christians are more focused on Heaven--it is so near, you know, as we new moms are consumed with other "things" and thinking on the future. They are thinking on the long journey they've made and looking heavenward.

At least that's what I hear.