Saturday, July 15, 2006

Were you born in the 1960s??

Yes - someone actually seriously asked me that question yesterday.... how bizarere - no I haven't just aged well ... I wasn't alive in the 1960s or the 70s for that matter...
Right, now as I start this post, I realise it is at risk from sounded a bit like something Bish would write... but what I experienced yesterday did wind me up and I want to process my thoughts on the matter.
When reaching people with the gospel - is it most effective to try and reach people of your own age / stage of life??
Well this question has been kncocking around in my brain for a while, but it came to the front yesteday, as I went to a conference on reacihng the elderly for Christ. I've rambled about elderly minsitry quite a bit on this blog - God has taught me so much about him and about loving people through it this year. But I didn't quite realise until yesteday quite how seemingly unique our Elderly Team is at Rock. I reckon we have about 17 volunteers who are either invovled in going into homes to do services and chat to people on Sundays or are invovled in Diamonds Cafe - out Friday afternoon outreach to the elderly in our community. I can only think of 2 of our team who are over 50. The majority of the team are in their 20s-30s. And apparently this is weird. At the conference yesteday, we were pretty much the only under 50s. I felt like I was about 12 - and sadly I also felt people were a bit scared of me becasue I'm young. The conference was totally geared toward over 50s and alienated us at times (for example when were asked to turn to our neighbour and discuss our memeories of the 1960s ... ummm.. hello??) But obviously generally in churches it is older people who work with older people. In a way I can see that this is great - we need Christian elderly people witnessing to their friends through the hardships of being old. But should it be older people alone doing the work? Should we be made to feel like freaks when we express an interst in reaching out to the elderly. Well - no we shouldn't. Our old people love the fact that we're young, that we're taking an interest in them, when most of our contemparies in society disregard them as useless. Surely this is a powerful witness to the gospel - we vaule the elderly where others don't as we know they are made in the image of God, and they need to know their Creator. And also, that in Jeus there is no longer Greek or Jew, circumsied or uncircumsied, slave or free... old or young? We are all one in Christ. The gospel breaks down the dividing wall of hositility that was formerly there. In Ephessians 2, this wall is between Jew and Gentile - surely the biggest wall ever, the barrier between the 'chosen people of God' and those who weren't. How much more should the gospel break down every other barrier our society tries to put up. I think more young poeple should be involved in work with the elderly - I think its a great witness to the gospel (and as young person who wasn't really up for the work when I was first asked to do it, I know that younger people can also learn sooo much through it). However, I think too often in churhces it is so normal to have people segregated. The older people work with the elderly and wouldn't dream of suggesting to a younger psrson that they might like to get invovled (maybe because they don't think they'd be able to relate, or maybe due to mistrust that there is in our society between the older and younger generations has seeped into out thinking). The students reach out to the students, the mums with small children reach out to the mums with small children, youth workes are ofent not much older than the youth themselves. And in a way this is good. I'm a pasionate believer in UCCF who believe that students are the best people to reach students. And its ture - poeple who are at the same life stage as you are easiest to relate to - you share similar experiences which you can talk about, and often spend a lot of time togehter doing similar things (both of which are obvious ways for Christians to witness). But should this be the exclusive way we work? Surely we should be showing the world that the gospel breaks down all barriers that the world tries to impose on us. Shouldn't it be more common for older people to be involved in youth and students work. Why is it so unusal for young people to be reaching out to the older generation?
I suppose I've been considering this question a lot espeically as I look to move jobs. I've loved my time at Rock, working with popele aged from 0-97. And I have found it tough to relate to people at differnt life stages to me, but it hasn't been impossible - I've still been able to share the gospel with poeple who are very different from me. But from September I'm going back to be working a lot with students - with a group I find it easy to relate to, in a church which doesn't have such a wide age range. But I don't want to forget the lessons I've learnt at Rock - I don't want to just slip back into the group I feel comfortable with and just let the usual segregation that happens in churches go on. I want to be encouraging Christians to mix with people who are differnt to themselves, because that is how we will most fully be the body of Christ, and a shining witness to the gospel which breaks down all barriers.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home