“And here’s the sick irony: by driving off the elderly, they were driving off the people who, through their weakness, would bring a unique strength. They were driving off people who are necessary to the healthy functioning of a church.”
(Tim Challies) One of the ugliest boasts of so many of the churches created during the era of the Church Growth Movement was this: This is not your grandparents’ church. This was a slogan they proudly broadcast on signs outside their churches multi-function ministry centers, a motto they printed on postcards and mailed to nearby homes. Just about every upper middle class neighborhood in North America got at least a few of these in the late 90s and early aughts.
These churches meant to communicate “this is a new kind of church—one fit for the modern world.” They wanted to indicate that younger folk—those who had wandered from the traditionalism of their parents or fled the fundamentalism of their grandparents—would find a safe place to hear about Jesus and learn about the Christian faith.
But the slogan and the very model of church made something else all too clear: the elderly are not welcome. If it’s not your grandparents’ church it’s not likely to welcome your grandparents, is it? If it’s defined in opposition to what’s dear to them, it’s not likely to make a place for them, is it? In fact, it’s going to abandon the hymns they love, crank the music to levels they hate, drop the lights so they cannot see, and scratch ministry to the elderly in favor of ministry to the youth.