Bridging the age gap in church
With the growing number of young persons entering the Church, gone are the days when the elders would have to force young persons into the flock.
Now with seniors being outnumbered, there is a risk that they might get lost in the mix as the many vibrant ministries in church are often powered by more energetic volunteers.
Seniors who are not being utilised in church may start feeling left out and more than a little neglected.
Family and Religion reached out to national youth director of Church of God in Jamaica, pastor Darren McKoy, who said it is important for youth to realise that they need the seniors and need them to be actively involved.
While acknowledging that that seniors will feel neglected if they are being brushed aside, he said the best way to ensure that they aren't, is to keep them engaged in activities being planned by the youth.
"However, being engaged does not mean taking over the activities, but the youth must ensure that they are a part of it in some shape or form. One of the cries from the seniors is that when the youth plan their activities, they are not considered," said McKoy.
Doing this, according to McKoy, ensures that seniors feel that they have participated in some way and that they added some meaning to whatever was done.
He pointed out that there are young folks who are of the opinion that much older members are like 'dinosaurs' and are, therefore, incapable of making things interesting. He said one major way in which seniors can enhance the youthful experience is by sharing their wisdom.
"Youth can only produce what they know, and their activities will be limited by what they know. However, to get more value and even substance out of what they do, then they need more information; they need more content. That is something that the seniors can provide," he shared.
Another way in which the two groups can work together, said McKoy is in coming up with ideas for programmes and activities that can be enlarged, simply by the volume of knowledge that the seniors can give. The youths must therefore keep that in mind. Another way in which the seniors can enhance the youthful experience is by sharing their story, which can add value and meaning to the youth and how they plan.
"A lot of our youth can learn from the trials, pitfalls, and triumphs of our seniors, which can make a significant difference in their lives," said McKoy.
When it comes to church programmes, McKoy stressed that allowing them to be part of the happenings doesn't mean they should be the core of it.
"Seniors must be in the programme more as a guide to the youth as they run the majority of the programme. Where the church needs to reach as an organisation, is to understand that a group that does not invest in its young people is a dying one," he said.
For McKoy, the issue on bridging the gap between seniors and youth in the church is nothing new on the local church circuit.
"Truth be told, that gap will always exist, if both parties don't have an understanding of each other. In this gap issue, there is a lack of understanding of cultures. Both the young and the old can't seem to understand the mentality and customs of the other. This is normally played out in how things are done in church," he said pointing out that the type of songs, dress codes and even slangs can become a bone of contention between the two age groups.
Going forward, McKoy said, both groups should try and get to the root of the issue and should also try to appreciate each other.
"They also need to take the time to listen to each other's story. The seniors may feel like they know more, while the younger generation may feel like the seniors don't understand, but if they take the time to listen, they will realise that harmony can exist through compromise," he shared.