"So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran." - Genesis 12:4
Someone once joked to me that advertisers lose interest in us once we hit 25 years old. This isn't entirely off – Nielsen reports that 95% of advertising dollars go to people under 35 years old. Trends are set by the younger generations as institutions and companies try to attract their attention.
Church is not exempt from these habits. One of the fiercest challenges in church is finding a way to give attention and care across every generation. As some receive focus, it is done at the – at least perceived – expense of others. Many congregations that figured out how to care well for their most loyal generations of membership then find themselves aging together, wondering how to serve the next generations. Congregations that have worked out a ministry model that works well for younger generations may feel inhospitable to their elders and vice versa.
As the Rev. Elena Larssen once pointed out to me: never before in the church's history have so many generations existed together. And she's right: longer life expectancy brings opportunities and challenges to congregations that have never had to work through this level of generational sharing in the history of Christendom.
We tend to focus on some at the expense of others. But we are not advertisers. Faith doesn't start at adulthood nor does it end at old age.
Septuagenarians Abram and Sarai were given a new mission by the God who wasn't even close to being done with them yet. Nor must we be. As we head into a new year, may we commit anew to meaningfully reaching across generations to see what new trend in faithfulness someone quite different from us can share.
God you call your faithful in every time, every age. May we make room for your Spirit to grow within us in all of life's phases. Amen.
Kaji Dou≈°a is the Senior Pastor of The Park Avenue Christian Church, a congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, in New York City./div>