I’ve been trying to not write about the church so much. Especially, I am avoiding discussion of problems in the church. Basically, I just don’t want to be cranky, and I’m better off talking about the Bible than about the church.
But I’m going to make an exception, because a truth dawned on me this weekend. I don’t remember how or why, but it hit me, for sure.
When people ask me why we left our church almost two years ago, I really haven’t had a clear answer. Sometimes it is hard to put those things into words, but this is more than that. I really didn’t have a clear reason in my own head.
Sometimes people leave churches because they aren’t being fed, they say. I have never felt that way. I’ve always tended to my own care and feeding anyway. That isn’t necessarily what church is for.
I was certainly involved. Several years on the board. Several years leading a small group on Sunday morning, or what we quaintly called Sunday School. Several years being the main sound engineer, running the board for most of the worship times.
But I realized this morning that we left because we weren’t really welcome there anymore.
The youth movement had taken over and we weren’t young. We were approaching sixty. Our church pretty much wanted the older folks to keep their mouths shut and pay their tithe. Our child was grown and gone. We were not the future of the church and not the present of the church.
Now, admittedly, no one ever put it that way. It was a de facto thing. Probably a confluence of lack of resources and unintended consequences.
Many churches have such youth movements, even if they give lip service to the importance of the elder folks. But they have decided that they must grab the younger folks to have a future. And, interestingly enough, they are failing at that, too. Pushing the older people to the sidelines and failing to maintain the younger people doesn’t seem like a recipe for success.
And it isn’t. So what happens instead is a constant shuffling of young families who want to be in church around the circuit of local churches that happen to appeal to them most this week.
For a year or more we attended a church that really didn’t care who was there, young or old. They just had good music and good preaching and lots of energy. There were no relationships, just dinner and a movie. This church was very much a part of the young family shuffle circuit, though.
Now we attend this church that is mostly made up of older folks. Maybe we even seem kind of young to them. In fact, maybe that’s when this truth dawned on me, as I parked the car and noticed that I was surrounded by Buicks.
Now, this church is dying and will not survive my generation in its current form, but it’s ok for now. At least they seem to want people like us there. This is where I’ll go until I retire and move away, I suppose.