Talk about identifying the elephant in the room.
At a recent fundraising banquet celebrating the work of an effective local ministry, the leader gave voice to a troubling reality. “Look around you this evening, and notice all the gray hair! We love and appreciate you, but…where are all the young people?”
Now, lest we paint with too broad of a brush, it’s important to point out that many of our less-senior citizens are hard at work on behalf of great ministries and charity organizations across the country. I recognize and appreciate the contributions of my contemporaries, and know how much they care. This is less of an indictment of our generation, than it is a salute to our forebears, and a concern for the not-too-distant future.
The ministry I serve is not immune. As president of a Bible conference, I am (at 45) by far the youngest person on the board; other than my wife, every one of my co-laborers is 65 or better. It is a blessing to work alongside these seasoned saints, maintaining our 60-year old tabernacle, and planning our summer meetings. But—save a handful of friends—there are precious few of the faithful, middle-aged and younger, waiting to step up and carry the torch for the next generation.
Granted, the face of ministry is changing. And a new missional trend in the church promises great things for the future. But what happens between now, and when that new trend reaches critical mass? Will a baby-boom generation that’s so inwardly focused be able (and willing) to preserve and prosper those ministry and civic organizations that are—in many cases—holding our communities together? Might each of us take a moment to pray about what we might do for others, expecting nothing but the joy of service in return?
As I prepared to host a local Veteran’s Day concert and celebration, I was reminded anew that what those of the Greatest Generation did for our nation went far beyond their military service, brave and sacrificial as that was. Our parents and grandparents came home from war to continue fighting for the way of life they loved, to preserve the freedom that had compelled them to duty. In so many ways, their service continues. May the same, one day, be said of our generation.
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