Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Do Not Feed the Old Farts

There are two extremes to be found in the ongoing debate about age and worship. On the one hand, there's the older musicians & leaders who jealously clutch all things worship-related in an iron grip, leaving the younger musicians with few options beyond playing in bar bands until the old folks die off. Thankfully, this doesn't happen as often as it used to.

The other side of the equation is becoming much more common: older worship musicians/leaders are finding themselves ostracized from worship because the pendulum of public opinion now holds that only young, hip, and attractive worship leaders & musicians can truly bring people into the presence of God through song.

Of course, nobody would ever dare say it that bluntly. Because if anyone did, using their outside voice, it would instantly sound as dumb and discriminatory as it actually is. (One pastor recently suggested that worship leaders (OT: Levites) should only be allowed to be involved in worship between the ages of 25 and 50, based on Numbers 8:24-26.)

This kind of thinking is affecting more than just worship leaders and musicians; more and more, it's being applied to pastors in general as well. In order to be truly used of God, you can't be old. Some have gone so far to defend it as "church branding", without any sense of shame for being so completely mercenary in their approach to ministry leadership.
This is nothing new in charismatic churches, either, due to the sad-but-predictable cycle of speakers on the conference circuit spreading the Latter Rain-inspired mantra: "God is calling the younger generation to rise up and take the land that the previous generation failed to because of unbelief."

Source: Wikimedia

In these circles, the younger are encouraged to despise, or at best ignore, Christians over a certain age (usually 35). After all, what could a young disciple of Jesus possibly learn or receive from one of the "failed generation"? (Unless you have the good fortune of (a) being the conference speaker giving this "word", or (b) already gained recognition as the "anointed of God".)

Call me an aging curmudgeon, but I'm still a big fan of Caleb & Joshua. They were definitely not young when they led the children of Israel into the promised land, after wandering through the wilderness for forty years. In fact, Caleb was eighty-five years old when he asked to be allowed to conquer the land that God had promised to him (Joshua 14:6-14).

And Psalm 71 has always been one of my favorites:
Since my youth, God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come. (Psalms 71:17-18)
Don't count the old guy out just yet!

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