each church needs a balance of experience and age groups to reach its highest potential. if your members are growing older and there is no influx of the next generation, the church will die off. morbid, i know. maybe you find that your church is on the other end of the age spectrum. this type of church may fail due to the lack of experience to come through the hard times. growing things have a robust root system, plenty of vibrant leaves to help nourish the plant, and beautiful new blossoms that open the opportunity for growth. as i find myself slowly, very slowly, flying top-speed into the more experienced age group, i recognize the value of the much more experienced saints and those that have laid the groundwork for the successes in the church we enjoy today. i want to cover a few statements made by Warren W. Wiersbe in his book entitled, On Being a Servant of God. (Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI, 2007, p.87)
the first of four quotes is, “Never take down a fence until you know why it was put up.” have you ever heard anyone remark that the way we do things is because it’s the way we’ve always done it? let us stop here for a moment and think, have we always done it this way, or were there many attempts at different procedures with an unfavorable outcome? there is nothing new under the sun. your attempt at instituting your great epiphany may have already been tried and failed miserably. that is not to say that we cannot try new things. i am all for innovation and new technologies, especially if proven elsewhere, but what works there doesn’t always work here. come together and discuss the change with an openness to work together for the best results of the Kingdom.
the second quote is, “If you get too far ahead of the army, your soldiers may mistake you for the enemy.” in a way, this goes very well with the first quote. we’re all in this together; not only should you not get too far ahead, but you should also do your best to make sure no one falls behind. an army, or relating to the church, is only as strong as its weakest link. we are to encourage each other, especially in times of weakness. your soldiers may show resentment to your pulling away, or worse yet, the actual enemy may step in and use this opportunity to divide and conquer.
“Don’t complain about the bottom rungs of the ladder; they helped to get you higher.” this quote is excellent because we all have to start somewhere. the engineer has to become highly familiar with physics and mathematics before designing their first rocket ship. your chosen profession has a definitive career path that you had to follow to get where you are today or where you want to be in the future. some people may climb the ladder faster than others, but that does not negate the fact that they had to begin with the bottom rungs to enjoy the view from the top. even then, the top of the ladder may not be the wonderful place you have envisioned in your mind. the journey from the lower rungs to the upper prepares you for what you will face when you get there.
our final quote is, “If you want to enjoy the rainbow, be prepared to endure the storm.” life will indiscriminately throw you a curveball from time to time. overcoming difficulties prepare you for the subsequent trial, each bringing another level of experience. these experiences can be shared and hopefully received as a way to help others avoid pitfalls in life. the testimony of what God has accomplished in your life is a great encouragement when things don’t seem to be going your way. if we persevere, the reward is worth it!
putting all of these quotes into perspective, we can see the advantage of having many age groups and diverse backgrounds in the church. with the help of God, there is no problem that we cannot solve through experience and innovation combined. the future of the church shines brightly from the fiery prayers of the past. “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” Philippians 1:6 (KJV, Tyndale, 1987).