Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. (Isaiah 46:4 NIV)
Its not uncommon for Christian churches to direct their evangelism towards young people. Many churches have a youth pastor and some churches are even predominantly composed of under 25s.
Its certainly important to reach the next generation with the gospel message; having young people in a church can give it a sense of vibrancy.
But if church is truly a family then what about older people?
A church family ought to mirror a physical family in that there will be young, middle aged, and yes, older people as well.
Those in their twilight years are just as important as younger people, have just as much need to meet Jesus and be cared for in the church community.
One of the social issues facing the UK is that we have an aging population with ever increasing social care needs thats placing a strain on the National Health Service. People may be living longer but not always in good health and with the widespread breakdown of family life many people are lonely and isolated in their dotage.
As Christians we mustnt neglect these people.
As Christians we mustnt be ageist in our approach to evangelism and overlook the elderly, especially as they form such a large part of the mission field.
The challenge for the Christian church is to be elderly sensitive and age friendly.
How can we achieve that in our local congregations?
How can we demonstrate it as individual Christians?
Let me suggest that a good starting place is to be relational; to be people centred. By being inclusive we can show that Christianity, and church life, is for all people. All are welcome, all will be loved, all will be discipled and nurtured, whatever their age.
Many elderly people are made to feel worthless and that they have nothing to contribute to society; this must not be so in the church. We should value the wealth of experience they can bring to the church family; without the elderly and their gifts our church is incomplete.
Jesus promoted the health and well-being of all people, especially those who were given little respect and dignity. Through His words and actions, Jesus showed marginalised people compassion and love, giving them new life and enabling them to become part of the community.
People who follow Jesus should treat elderly people in the same way and should include them in their mission.
The Old Testament Scriptures told the ancient Israelites to: Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:32)
Can we as Christians do any less?
Father, we know that you care deeply for elderly people. Help us to have your compassion for them too, so that we can reach out and care for them. Help us to lead them into the church family where they can use their gifts to be a blessing to your people.
Have a good week caring for the elderly.