This weekend I had the privilege of running in the “Just Glazed 5K”. They gave us Krispy Kreme donuts at the end and the proceeds went toward Autism Awareness. What’s not to love? So I jumped at the chance to be a part of this race when some girls from church asked me to run with them as a team. We all had to finish together. Good deal.
The race was a blast. We had a great time. W
Of course since I’ve become a 40-something, my definition of girl has changed. I think a “girl” is any female that is a 20-something or less. Never mind the fact that I have a 3 year old, these girls are young enough and I’m old enough that it’s what we could call a generational divide. Seriously, I’m trying to grasp hold of the fact that I’m old enough to be their Momma!! So naturally, my next question after I agree to run this race with these “girls” is what do we call this team, “One Old Hen and Three Young Chicks”? And I’m really not kidding. But they spare me that name and come up with something more classy. Thank you. Good move girls.
What’s even better is that we won first place of the All Female Teams. Not shabby. But there’s something I brought home from the race that was better than the “atta girl” and the donuts. It was the lesson these girls taught me about the older woman and the younger women. I have to face the facts. I may not be old, but I’m older. I’m now an older woman to a whole generation of 20-somethings. What am I going to do about that? What do we do with that in the church?
Well, it’s kind of scarey really, what we do in the church. We separate and segregate and divide up and split up and section off. We have youth ministry and college and career ministry and senior ministry. But if we are all separate all the time then how do we fulfill the Titus 2 principle? Titus 2:3-5: “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God”
How on earth can we urge the younger women to do anything if our paths rarely cross? If we only stay with “our group”? If we don’t spend any time with them? The responsibility of this lies with the older woman. It is our job to mentor the younger woman. To build the bridge. To be the example. But how often do we really see that in church? I mean really?
Here’s what often happens in church. A young person begins to grow in their faith and the Lord begins to stir their hearts toward ministry. They get some ideas about how they can be useful and put their gifts to work. And as soon as they suggest something NEW!! Oh my!!! At the mention of something “not like we’ve always done it”…..they get shot down. Nope. We can’t do it that way.
Seriously? Have we forgotten that many of the things we do in church today and the way we do them were new at some point? We paved the way with new ideas and broke new ground. The generation before us would have been considered radical by the one before them. But now we can’t let go of our own way of doing things so that God can use someone new. Someone else. Last time I checked, my Bible said the Spirit would be with us until the end of the age, so I’m pretty sure that means He plans to use every generation.
So when these girls asked me to run this race with them it showed me something important. The younger generation is not afraid of mixing with the older generation. In fact, I think they like it. They do not discriminate against the older nearly as much or as often as the older discriminates against the younger. It’s time we believed in them. It’s time we gave them a chance to do some things their way and reach out to their peers so that the church of American doesn’t just grow older, but grows.
And it’s time we gave them some real jobs and responsibility in the church and give them the training they need to do it. We can’t just appoint them to a job and expect that they will get it right 100% and criticize them when they don’t. We are the trainers. The mentors. We walk with them. We lead until they are ready.
They may be younger. And they may be stronger. But we have something to offer. When I knew I was going into a 5K with girls have my age I started thinking about how much faster they probably were than I am (being old and all) and started second guessing this whole idea. But then I stopped listing to the junk in my head and recognized the truth. I might not be fast, but I can pace myself and that finishes races.
I love the energy and zeal of the young. But it comes with little experience. That’s where we come in. We don’t have the same energy they do, but we have more experience. What if we actually worked together instead of segregating all the time? What would that look like in the church? It would be incredible. So church, let’s get the old hens and young chicks together. Let’s mix it up.
In the race this weekend we worked together. We believed in each other. We didn’t give up on one another. We didn’t leave anyone behind. We finished the race together. We won. Life….Now that’s an amazing race. We’re all in it. So why don’t we try this: Let’s work together. Let’s believe in each other. Let’s not give up on one another. Let’s not leave anyone behind. Let’s finish together. And you young chicks…..I’ll run with you as long as my legs will carry me. Cheering you on!