Relational Re-“generation”

Sadly, Western culture holds little honor for the elderly.

It’s worse when the Church imitates culture.

In many churches, there are fairly active senior ministries. However, it is a rare case for any other generation to actually interact with their elders. If the Church is meant to equip and support the whole family of God, how then are the younger generations taught to honor their elders?

On the other hand, I’ve heard of churches who have re-focused on the younger generations to the extent that they even encouraged the senior saints to find another place of worship. This “strategic” move has done so much damage to the larger family of God.

And, quite frankly, it show incredible disrespect for the Almighty God.

God commanded His people to be holy because He was holy (Leviticus 19:1). Then, He proceeded to give them action points that would be an outworking of the holiness He desired. At one point, God made the following statement:

Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord. (v. 32, NIV)

God calls His people to be in the presence of those who are older and to show respect for them. He also puts it in line with a command to revere Him. In other words, disrespect for elders equals disrespect for God.

I’m grateful to be in a ministry where the desire is to show honor to these senior saints. My desire to to keep Titus 2 clearly in view as we establish a biblical community together. It’s become a framework for what a New Testament, multigenerational church should look like.

Yet, I’ve also seen some challenges as a result.

  • Older generations with low expectations. When seniors hear Titus 2, it sounds more like an ideal. Too many times they’ve been dismissed and pushed to the side. It takes time and interaction for them to realize that their wisdom is desired. It also involves the conviction of the Spirit to move them toward obedience regardless of how they are received.
  • Younger generations with high expectations. Titus 2 gives a clear message to senior men and women to invest in the next generation. Because of this, it’s easy for many of us in younger generations to sit back and wait for our elders to act. But, we need to keep in mind that God calls us to “stand up in the presence of the aged” regardless of how we’re received. Again, it takes a Spirit-empowered work to move us to obey the Word we’ve been given.
  • Opportunities are lacking. In order for relationships to happen, we need time and space. Time together to work through our doubts and fears. Space to become a place where the environment is one of grace and love. This doesn’t happen with a highly-programmatic, age-segregated focus. It only happens when we do it on purpose.

It is my conviction that my family and I are to be obedient no matter what others do around us. With that in mind, we’ve determined to be intentional about respecting our elders. As a result, we have experienced great joy and received love from many senior saints.

The best part is — our children are experiencing the blessing of Titus 2.

I call it a relational re-“generation.”

If you are a parent who is being moved to action, then perhaps a few ideas would be helpful.

  • As a family, intentionally develop a relationship with an elderly person or couple in your neighborhood. Our girls have had a special relationship with our neighbor, who has recently moved into a nursing home. We still make cards, goodies and visits that bring joy to all of us.
  • Pray and act on a purposeful relationship with seniors in your local church gathering. In our local gathering, we encourage newly-baptized members to have a “grandparent” who will commit to encouraging you in your faith for the following 6 months. When my middle daughter was baptized, a relationship with a dear lady in our spiritual family began and has continued long past the 6 months. Our entire family treasures these moments together.
  • Ask a senior saint to share their story. Rarely will you hear such genuine faith as you do when you hear the story of one who has committed their life to Christ. In hearing their story, you and your children may connect with certain parts and realize that you are truly united in the Spirit.
  • Go to a senior ministry event. I can’t guarantee it, but I’d be seriously surprised if you were turned away. Not only will it bring smiles and energy to their gathering, but you’ll experience a whole new feeling of joy.

Regardless of what culture does or how your local church is structured, we’re all still called to obedience of God’s Word. This obedience includes being present with and respectful of our elders. It begins with us, and we can set the example for future generations to follow.

It’s not just a matter of showing honor to our elders; it’s a matter of showing honor to God.

—–

How about you? What are some ways you have been intentional about showing honor for your elders? Take some time to comment and share ideas with others below.

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