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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...




Missionary Church Planters & Developers: Still Young Enough to Serve

By John W. Kennedy
June 29, 2014

In their travels to local congregations as part of Assemblies of God U.S. Missions Missionary Church Planters and Developers, Wes and Judy Wick have uncovered a plethora of misconceptions about those in the second half of life.

Many young adults think 50-plus ministry is primarily about nursing home and hospital visitation, hospice care, and funeral services for the elderly. The Wicks, who co-founded the ministry Young Enough to Serve (YES!) in 2008, are doing their best to change such stereotypes.

In fact, a primary goal of YES! is to integrate young adults and older adults in outreaches so they can learn from each other. For instance, one chilly afternoon last winter, eight decades were represented when 100 volunteers from Valley Assembly ministered to the inner-city homeless on the streets of Spokane, Wash.

Equally important to the mission of YES! is to convince those who have reached midlife and beyond that it’s not time to retire from the Christian walk. Wes Wick is concerned too many second-half Christians have either bought into the cultural message that selfish leisurely pursuits are of paramount importance, or they nostalgically isolate themselves in holy huddles of hymn singing and potlucks.

“There are a large number of second-half Christians who aren’t deliberate about making disciples,” Wes says. “We want to challenge them to see their potential to impact younger generations as well as their peers.”

The Wicks — empty nesters who have raised four children — acknowledge that bodies deteriorate with aging and there might be other limitations, but they say many older Christians have a great deal of energy left to devote to ministry.

Recently the Wicks, who are based in Scotts Valley, Calif., have been staying at local churches as monthlong missionaries in residence. That typically involves meeting with pastoral staff and speaking during various services, Sunday School classes, and Bible studies. Part of that strategy involves urging pastors to interview older adults in videos or live on stage about the seniors’ vast experiences as Christians and what they have learned over the years.

“There is a connection when younger people hear the stories and want to get to know these older individuals better,” Judy says. “If stories aren’t shared, younger adults will likely just see older people as old codgers with whom they can’t relate.”

The Wicks say older and younger generations are naturally suspicious of each other, but attitudes change when a pastor green-lights a project that involves both at the same time.

“Outreaches are a natural way for generations to connect,” says Judy, who has served as children’s pastor at five AG churches. “When people serve side by side they grow together in faith and forget about their ages.”

The Wicks’ strategy in speaking to pastors and congregants is to leave tools that will facilitate intergenerational cooperation and communication.

Wes, citing studies by the Fuller Youth Institute, says it is in a church’s best interest to prevent segregating teenagers from older influencers.

“If kids have five strong adult relationships outside their peer groups, they are a lot less likely to walk away from the faith,” Wes says.

However old a Christian is, serving the Lord rather than pursuing comfort should be their calling, according to Wes. Being involved in the community life of the church can provide the opportunity to interact with those in the younger generations who desperately need mentors and friends.

“Jesus taught us to go make disciples,” says Wes, who has 20 years’ experience in Christian higher education. “That’s our mandate, whatever our age. Disciple-making is our highest form of serving.”

Wes says the Bible is full of intergenerational relationships, but many U.S. churches have drifted toward age separation. He likes to quote Psalm 71:18: “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come” (NIV).


JOHN W. KENNEDY is news editor of the Pentecostal Evangel.

 

 

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