Friday, July 17, 2009

Too Old To Minister??

There is a disturbing trend developing in church and parachurch ministry. That trend is to get rid of "older" pastors, missionaries, workers and replace or substitute them with younger, more "up-to-date" ministers, pastors and church leaders. Lest the reader think I am making this up I have personally spoken to missionary friends and other church leaders and ministers and am finding this to be the case in their lives or ministries.

What is particularly disturbing is that this trend is anti-biblical and simply foolish. The Scriptures exhort us to respect and honor our elders in the faith (Deut. 32:7; 1 Tim. 5:1; Titus 2:2; 1 Pet. 5:5; Heb. 13:7) and their wisdom and years of experience are invaluable to younger leaders and ministers. To be forced out of service at age 65 is not only tragic, but also unwarranted, if the person is fit and able to serve and has kept up on ministry trends, needs and concerns.

All of us have heard stories or experienced older church and ministry leaders that were physically or emotionally unable to effectively continue in ministry. We also know older folks who have not kept up on the times and are unable to appropriately apply the Scriptures to our generation. I am not referring to the obvious. Men or women leaders in their 60s or even 70s should not be summarily dismissed due solely to their age, nor should we suppose that younger leaders are more skilled or equipped simply because they are younger.

I do believe in "age-appropriate" ministry. Thus, a 65 or 70 year old pastor probably cannot effectively attract and minister to twenty-somethings. On the other hand, there are older university professors and people in other professions where their age is an asset to younger people. Why can't this be the case for the church?