Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Elders

Most of the churches I've attended, in the 25+ years that I've been a Christian, have been "baby boomer" churches. The congregations were comprised mostly of younger people with only a smattering of older folks. By contrast, the church I now belong to has a large number of senior citizens. This has been a revelation to me. I facilitate a Sunday School Bible class in which, at age 47, I am the youngest person there. Many of the attendees are in their 70's and 80's. One of the most loyal and active participants is a gentleman who recently turned 100. I am constantly humbled, amazed and edified by the wisdom and gentle patience of these elders. There is a term that Quakers use to refer to someone who is older, wise and respected; they are called a "weighty Friend."

Our culture tends to idolize youth. Many churches seem to skew that way also. An emphasis gets placed on young, dynamic leaders. Often (at least in my experience) these young leaders have zeal but lack patience, wisdom and gentleness. I've known a few young (and not so young) pastors and elders who did not measure up to the criteria for elders that Paul laid out in his letters to Timothy and Titus. They were impatient, intemperate, pugnacious, unlearned and lacking in self-control. They were elders in name only. I've seen many "sheep" get damaged as a result. I've also known a few "real" pastors and elders.

It has been said that wisdom is perishable. Unlike information or knowledge, it cannot be stored in a computer or recorded in a book. It expires with each passing generation. Elders who are truly elders--older, wise, patient, gentle, humble and learned--are priceless treasures. Sadly, they are often buried treasures--overlooked and passed by. I've learned to eschew the "young and trendy" in favor of the "old and steady" and to seek out the wisdom of these elders.


Blogger Linda (haven) said...

Hi Danny --
We've been having a very similar discussion in our Ministry and Counsel committee at meeting.

The committee wanted me to ask you if we can print your blog for others reading, to start discussion in our adult RE.

I hope you'll be agreeable -- we appreciate your perspective alot!

5:33 PM  
Blogger Danny Coleman said...

Hi Linda,

Certainly, feel free. I would consider it an honor if anything I've written might be of use.


7:04 PM  

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