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Perspectives for an Ageing Congregation

November 3rd, 2014

 

Congregations can start off young and full of the confidence of youth. But if they remain faithful over the decades, then the inevitable will become true: they will become an ageing congregation.This is in fact very positive. It means that people have endured until the end and their walk with God has not been just a youthful passing fad, but a life time commitment to doing good and pleasing God.

 
I would like to share several perspectives .

 
1. The first one comes from the late John Halford. A couple of years before his recent death, John made a video about growing older entitled Changing Seasons. To view please click here.

 
There is a reality we have to accept. We are mortal and we do age. But we can also discover that this season of life does offer its own opportunities.

 
2. Regardless of how we live there is what the book of Ecclesiastes describes as in

 
Ecclesiastes 12:1

 Remember your Creator
    in the days of your youth,
before the days of trouble come
    and the years approach when you will say,
    “I find no pleasure in them”—

 
And we cannot sugar coat this reality. It is something we as an ageing congregation need to appreciate and seek the love of God to share this burden with one another. Many are house bound or have limited opportunity to get out. Others are suffering the grief of loss – whether bodily functions or of family members. In fact one could say that ageing can be a series of losses with the accompanying grief.

 
Thus there is an opportunity of the congregation to mourn with those who mourn and to share the comfort of God with one another.

 
3. Recently Joe Tkach discussed the following:

 
At times we’ve referred affectionately to our very small, often aging congregations as “legacy churches.” We’ve stopped doing so because it implies that they don’t have a meaningful, ongoing part in the mission of God. But that’s not what we believe. We value every congregation, no matter how small and no matter the age of its members. We value every member, no matter their age or other limiting circumstances. We believe that each congregation and every member can play a meaningful, important part in what God is doing to make of us a church planting movement.

 
This mission focus keeps all of us aware that the living God is continuing to add to his family and share the life of the Father and Son in the Spirit.

 
Isaiah 40:28-31

 
28 Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

 
This involvement in the God, who does not tire or lose interest in his loving purpose to include all in his family, lifts us as a people to put our hope in him.

 
4. This last point is the deepest and most personal. It is described in a prayer by the apostle Paul in

 
Ephesians 3:14-21

 
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

 
The longer we live the more aware we are of our weaknesses, our mistakes, the fact we still have blind spots to how we affect others. This can cause us to feel a bit fragmented, disconnected and at times alone. But the good news contained in scriptures like this is that God is complete, full and that we can know that we are loved, that we belong and be embraced, at home with God. The fullness of God involves the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

 
Prayer can be the focused awareness of this filling. So as we age, just enjoy God in his fullness, allowing him to embrace you in his acceptance and giving thanks for such a growing knowledge of his love for all of us.

Over 60's

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