(This week I’ve included the original song “Grace Unleashed” with this blog. Enjoy!)

Our son Greg is a youth pastor at a large church in Minnesota. Last week his church hosted a gathering of churches located in the North Central area of the United States. Greg said that one of the speakers, a leader in the church, spent time highlighting the need to reach out to often-neglected people groups, including several racial and ethnic cultures. He also focused on the need to reach out to young singles and also pointed to a sometimes-forgotten group: Baby Boomers. In the past few years, I have heard from many Baby Boomers and Busters from across the country who have felt disenfranchised and left behind by the church. This is a complicated issue, and ultimately all Christ-followers need to be on their knees in prayer, that God’s will for the Church would prevail over our preferences, ages, and strategies as well as the outside cultural influences that sometimes run counter to the Scriptures.

On the one hand, it is good and appropriate for older and more experienced Christ followers to reach out and even pass the torch to the next generation. The writer of Psalm 71 made it clear that this was their prayerful purpose in asking God to extend their life and ministry:

“Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God,
Until I declare your power to the next generation,
Your mighty acts to all who are to come.”
Psalm 71:18

There is tremendous value in keeping the church fresh and alive in Christ, and many churches that are reaching different cultures and people groups —such as millenials— are in the sweet spot of God’s plan because of their strategic location and call.

On the other hand, the Church also needs to be mindful of and true to the Biblical models and values that run counter to an unhealthy cultural emphasis on youth. There are many Scriptural examples where different generations and people groups worshipped and served God above age and other differences. 1st Chronicles 25 paints a picture of beautiful worship that includes many generations. King David established an academy of worship musicians and leaders for the Temple.

These musicians were called “…for the music of the temple of the Lord, with cymbals, lyres, and harps, for the ministry at the house of God…—all of them trained and skilled in music for the Lord—they numbered 288. Young and old alike, teacher as well as student, cast lots for their duties.”
I Chronicles 25: 6,7,8

Throughout the Bible, God has used people of many backgrounds, ethnicities, ages, and generations for His work. Young men like Timothy, old men like Moses, women like Ester, Ruth, and Lydia, and many more show us that God desires that ALL people come to know, worship, and serve Him. Everyone matters to God! Acts Chapter 2 points to God’s Spirit alive in the Church undivided by race, cultural, and age differences:

“ All the believers were together and had everything in common.”
Acts 2:44

This passage paints a beautiful picture of Christ-followers serving side-by-side rather than as fragmented and segmented people.

The Church I serve at is located in an area know as The Villages, which is the largest retirement community in the world and one of the fastest growing regions in the United States. From continuing education courses to thousands of clubs, concerts, fitness and sports opportunities, it is said that people move to the Villages not to die but to live! People at our church have an expression: “If you’re not dead, then you’re not done! ” and it is evident in many ways:

• Over 11,000 shoeboxes handmade every year for Samaritans Purse;
• Over 108,000 meals paid for and assembled for Feed My Starving Children in one week earlier this year;
• Ongoing missions happening through the year to places near and far;
• Outreach events including Christian drive-in movies and concerts at our outdoor venue called The Grove.
• And more!

People in our church are breaking the cultural mold on age and are committed to serving God in the encore phase of life, as our church slogan states: Play hard! Pray hard! Finish well!

Our worship is authentic, loud, and alive, using both current worship music and adapted hymns led by worship leaders and musicians both young and older. While we are reaching one of the ‘often-forgotten’ people groups: People 55 years and older, we are also welcoming, and including millennials and other generations. We hope that our church will reflect God’s vision for the church that is above and beyond the divisions of our world and culture. We pray that in worship all generations and people groups will experience God and be transformed by Him.

For Christ-followers, a life of worship is one that supports and works toward unity with fellow believers, regardless of their age, ethnicity, or background.

God bless you.

Chris Atkins