Old Christians never die...they just get more radical.
My dad used to have a shirt that said, “Old skiers never die…they just get more radical.” It was an embarrassing, brightly colored, 80's style shirt and he wore it all the time. He liked the shirt because he loved to ski and he knew that, since he was in his 40’s, we, his three sons, thought he was old. Now that I am in my 40’s, I have a different definition of old. And, after last weekend, I have a greater appreciation for the radical old guys I get to be around.
First, I was with “Old Christian Guys” at our Living Streams elder’s retreat. Not all of our elders are “old,” but some of these incredible men of God are in their 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. They have committed themselves to seeking God for wisdom for the governance of our church. That governance includes spiritual covering in prayer, church protection, church discipline, annual budgeting and finance, some staff-related issues, the senior pastor role, and accountability. (Wow. Doesn’t that sound like a fun party?)
Each of these guys has stories of God’s faithfulness to them and years of solid apprenticeship to Jesus. And by God’s grace we have had wonderful unity in this season that gets me excited for future blessing.
Psalm 133 says, “Behold how good and how pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity…for there the Lord commands His blessing.” I really believe our church has been blessed through all the years and through our leadership transition because of the wisdom and unity for which these guys have faithfully fought.
Second, at the Thrive Men’s Retreat last weekend I had multiple encounters with “Old Christian Guys” that left me dumbfounded, inspired, and filled with hope. I don’t think many of the “old guys” slept well, felt good physically, or really wanted to spend a weekend away from home, but they came anyway. They added pure gold to the Men’s Retreat by their attitude, example, and contribution to the small groups. There are few things more beautiful for this pastor to see than a whole bunch of groups with “young” and “old” all together, getting deep.
I have said it before, and I will say it again and again and again: I long to see this in our church—the older gathering the younger under their wings and creating exquisite mutuality and extraordinary kinship across generational lines. Not a domineering, “Let me tell you what you need to know kid,” but a gentle, caring guidance and sharing of wisdom.
We will be a strong church family to the degree that our wisdom-rich older folks will seek out and reach out to the unsure and unproven younger folks. First Corinthians 4 says, “There are a lot of people around who can’t wait to tell you what you’ve done wrong, but there aren’t many fathers (or mothers) willing to take the time and effort to help you grow up.”
I know it is a challenge. I know the younger folks don’t often ask for help or respond well the first, second, or third time help is offered. I know it will take sacrifice and discomfort—especially on behalf of the older—but I am so thankful that our church is full of those willing to do and be in this direction.
Now, if I may be so bold, whether you are old or young, register for Urban Kinetic at livingstreams.org/urbankinetic. Let’s loosen the courageous, competent, multi-generational army of Living Streams Jesus-followers on the parts of our city in which pain, loneliness, and shame usually reign.
By His grace and for His glory,