I read a news article this week (January 22, 2020) that caught my attention. The headline read, “Minnesota Church Aims to Attract Younger Members by Asking the Older Ones to Stay Away.” According to the article, “A small Methodist church in Minnesota is closing this summer with a plan to relaunch in November as a place that can attract (only) younger members of the community — and leaders are asking older members to keep their distance for at least the first year and a half after it reopens.” Listen to this, “One member, William Gackstetter, told the Pioneer Press that church leadership still wants those older members to maintain the property during the closure, as well as contribute financially. “They want us to mow the lawn and shovel the snow,” Gackstetter said. “As if anyone would do that. This whole plan makes me sick. I believe it’s evil.” The older members are being asked to find somewhere else to worship; not only during the closure, but for 15 to 18 months after it reopens, according to the Pioneer Press. After that, elderly members interested in “migrating back” to the church can connect with the pastor and discuss how that transition might take place. Wow! In other words we want your money, we just don’t want you. Is that the message?
I have to tell you I felt sickened at this. I’m not making this stuff up. That is really happening and it breaks my heart. When I read this article it teared me up! What have we become when we start telling people you can’t come to church, you can’t come worship, you can’t come hear the preaching of God’s Word, you can’t come pour into the lives of other believers, you can’t come be fed in your faith. You are just “too old,” or “too poor,” or the wrong color, or the wrong smell, or the wrong dress, if you don’t look like us, or don’t talk like us. We only want you if you fit perfectly within our parameters of what we want our church to look like, you are not our “target group,” you don’t fit within our stated mission purpose. Folks, that is ungodly, un-Biblical, and un-Christian, I think! And lest you are tempted to believe that is an isolated event and say, “Well, that’s in Minnesota… a long way from here! That’s not happening here!” Don’t be so sure! When I shared the article with one of our members she said to me, “That’s very much want what happened at…!” And she named a local church that she is familiar with that did something very much like that!
I mentioned this one before… even wrote a previous newsletter article about it, but a few years back I saw an ad in the local newspaper. I remember the ad catching my attention and that it both puzzled me and at the same time kind of offended me. It was an ad for a church… probably a new church start-up, at least that is what it looked like to me. One of those churches that doesn’t appear to really want to be identified with anyone, has no denominational connection in its name, that is meeting at in a school or store front somewhere. None of that bothered me or is what offended me. I applaud every authentic effort to reach people for Jesus Christ and minister in His name. What really caught my attention, was the wording of the ad. It had all the catchy buzz words that virtually every new church starting up has now days… family oriented, contemporary worship style, conversational style of peaching, but at the bottom of the ad it said “We are not your grandmother’s church!” They were advertising themselves that way! I can’t pretend to get in the mind of the person who came up with that poor “slogan,” but I think it a pretty obvious insinuation that there is something wrong with your “grandparents” church… with how your grandparents do Jesus, and we aren’t going to do faith and Jesus, and church they way your “grandparents” do… oh and by the way we still want you to contribute financially and mow the lawn, and take care of the building and shovel the snow, but please don’t come and bring your older more traditional more antiquated ways of doing things around here!
Folks, I have to tell you this kind of thinking is a strong indication that somewhere along the way we have missed the mark Biblically, the purpose and calling of the church… the body of Christ, why we are here and what we are to be about. There just seems to be a carelessness, a casualness, a hipster mentality when it comes to church and often the things of God these days… a total disregard in many cases for where we are and where we have come from… a sort of irreverence and even disrespect for those who loved, feared and honored God before we ever got here. It’s is like we expect, even demand that this generation of faith that has gone before us change its ways and adapt them to our ways, with never a thought that maybe it is this generation that needs to adapt and change out of reverence and respect for those who have so beautifully passed their faith on to us. There seems to be a fear today among the trendy church movement crowd of all things traditional and old. I’ve said this before, but remember that God is “old”… He has been around for all eternity and is the same yesterday, today and forever! Remember the Bible, God’s Word, is “old” and its truths are timeless… great words of antiquity, of wisdom and truth. The church is “old” and has been around for a long time… since Pentecost, and is still the body of Christ, His hands and feet, loved by Him and anointed by Him for His work. The songs of the church, though not as “old,” are still “old” by today’s standard… great “old” hymns of faith, songs that tell of what God has done in the lives of men and women and can still do today. Some Christians and some Christian leaders, especially in the modern church movements, to put down and cast aside as insignificant and insufficient in some way the traditional, the old, by-gone ways of doing things… even sometimes to the point that those more traditional churches begin to see themselves as insignificant and insufficient. They may begin to close down in some ways, to retreat and hide behind the walls of their church as if threatened by the newest fads and latest trends in doing church. Other “Christians” are doing this to their own kind, brother and sisters in the body of Christ just because in their minds they are “too old.” God forbid! These churches and Christians, rather than moving forward, become stuck in just trying to survive among the greater body of Christ, who is wanting to just “put them out to pasture.”
I don’t think we ought to apologize for one second for being who God has called us to be and being authentic about it. There is a place today for the more “traditional,” well grounded, well rooted type of faith… the faith of our grandparents, of our older brothers and sisters in Christ who worshipped before us. And surprising to some, there is a growing hunger for it today as many, disillusioned by the shallowness and sometimes superficial mentality of the progressive/contemporary church movement, are left with an empty longing for more… something deeper, richer, and more meaningful. It may truly surprise some to see even many young people, young families with young children who are flocking to the traditional church “of their grandparents” because perhaps it takes them back to a place where God was the most real to them, where faith seemed authentic and simpler, where Christians were trying hard to reach the world around them for Christ Jesus and not become more like it.
At FBC Buda you will find a down home faith, a down home people, a down home church. We are pretty traditional in our approach to doing church together and we don’t apologize for it. We want to be authentic about it. We sing hymns from hymn books, still pass an offering place, and preach and teach from God’s Word. We also have a warm and loving fellowship and we treat each other like family, young and old. We like being together and we like being who God has called us to be. We don’t want to stop being like this, we want to be more and more like this because this is who God has called us to be in Him. We just want to reflect Jesus Christ to a world that is watching and waiting for someone to show them Jesus. And you are welcome here.