We are surrounded by many forms of prejudice and discrimination in church and society. One that I see first hand is age discrimination in local churches. This applies to both younger people and older people. Let’s start with the younger people:
Prejudices Against Kids in the Church:
1. Even though 50% of people who profess faith in Christ do so by age 12 (George Barna research), many local churches allocate only a tiny portion of their resources towards reaching and building people 12 and younger.
2. Though this is my anecdotal experience, I doubt it is uncommon: I have personally heard core church members refer to the Children’s Ministry of the church as “childcare”. I understand that they don’t mean any wrong in saying that. But I believe it reveals the underlying view towards kids in the church: that they just need to be babysat while the adults sing songs and listen to sermons.
Prejudice Against the “Older and Wiser” in the Church:
Take a group of 10 people in the church over the age of 60. That’s a minimum of 600 years of life experience, collective knowledge, and a great deal of spiritual insight just in that group of 10. How often does a local church seek out the spiritual wisdom and insight of the “senior citizens” groups of the church? In my opinion, there is a lot left to be tapped in those members of our congregations. Younger people see them as “retired”, “expired”, or “old-fashioned.” What if we instead viewed them as elders to whom we can go to for learning, growing, and mentoring?
What do you think? Do you observe these same types of discrimination in your church? What are some ways to work against age discrimination?