Most of you are probably familiar with “class warfare,” which involves pitting one social class against another (usually the poor against the rich) for political gain. It seems that some would instigate “age warfare” in the church. “Grandma’s Jeans” is the title of an article I came across in a church bulletin.2 After speaking of “summer events that can involve the entire family,” the writer adds,
I want to let you know I’m also mindful of the needs specific to teenagers. Allow me to approach it this way . . . if grandma is wearing ‘em, the jeans ain’t cool. Huh? You heard me, kids don’t want old people intruding into their domain, at least not when it comes to fashion, popular vocabulary, and now, thanks to the Pew Research Center, their social media. According to a study conducted last September, while 94% of teens are still using Facebook, it has ceased to excite young people in part, [sic] because grandma now has an account. “While Facebook is still deeply integrated in teens’ everyday lives, it is sometimes seen as a utility and an obligation rather than as an exciting new platform that teens can claim as their own.” And don’t think it’s just that grandma has an account, [sic] teens are migrating to Twitter and Instagram because they are more “parent -free” sites where they can express themselves. . . .
And that is why we offer several age specific events throughout the year as well as Bible classes for students of all ages.
The attitude of “one church for the young, another church for the old” has become increasingly common among congregations. This attitude is why some churches now have separate “contemporary” worship services for the younger people and “traditional” worship services for the “old fogeys.” This is why some churches now divide the worship assembly to hold “children’s church.”
I will not deny that there is value in having age-appropriate Bible classes. Devotionals intended specifically for youth can be a wonderful thing. However, shutting out Grandma to keep things “cool” and “exciting” is not a valid reason for age-specific church “events” and Bible classes. Why would one seek to cultivate an “us versus them” mentality between young and old? Does this comport with Paul’s descriptions of and instructions to the church as the body of Christ?
For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another” (Rom. 12:4-5).
But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary (1 Cor. 12:20-22).
Yet here we find a youth minister addressing “those members of the body which seem to be more feeble,” saying (at least at times), “We have no need of you.”
Who are specifically charged to be “teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women”? (Titus 2:3-4). The answer—aged women. Job observed, “With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding” (12:12). Young people should be encouraged to appreciate this, rather than deprecating their elders. Many of them already do appreciate, value, and love their elders—how many “grandmas” first started using Facebook because their grandchildren urged them to sign up for it?
Many people have pointed out how detrimental “class warfare” has been to our society. Rather than strengthening our nation by uniting it upon the principles for which it stands, it has weakened our nation by driving an unnecessary wedge between people. There is no reason to believe that “age warfare” will be any more helpful to the church of our Lord. We have a formidable enough foe in Satan—Christians need to unite in battle against him, regardless of what age we might be.
1 This article orginally appeared in the June 16 2013 bulletin of the Mammoth Spring (AR) church of Christ.
2 Joe Chesser, WindSong Church of Christ bulletin, June 7 2013, p. 3. Chesser was listed at the time as the “youth minister” and “worship leader” at WindSong.