I once heard a preacher’s thoughts regarding a troubled church. He said something to the effect, “There is a generation that is going to have to die off there before God can get in there and change things.” The preacher wasn’t mad when he made that statement. He wasn’t trying to be cruel or cold. Really, he had no relationship to the church in question. He was simply conveying a matter-of-fact assessment that, in my opinion, was true.
Let’s face is, sometimes the old guard is the problem. “We’ve never done it that way before.” “That’s not how we do things at this church.” “What makes you think you can come in here and change everything?” These are the classic statements of the old guard of a dying church.
When I think about this subject, my mind goes to that generation of Israelites who refused to claim their promised land of Canaan because of cowardice. I won’t rehash the whole story, but you can read it for yourself in Numbers chapters 13 and 14. All I’ll note here is that because of their refusal to trust God and obey Him as He led them into a new place, He pronounced a death sentence upon every Israelite twenty years old or older. That resulted in all of those people dying off in Israel’s “wilderness wandering” over the course of the next 40 years. Only after all of them were dead did God bring Israel back to Canaan again for its conquering.
The point is that it was Israel’s younger generation who got to enjoy the blessing of claiming Canaan and settling there. As for the old guard, well, they proved that they just weren’t the right spiritual timber to get in on God’s highest and best. Sadly, this describes the older generation of far too many churches, including the one that preacher described that day. Those people had become so entrenched in their way of thinking, so set in their ways, and so obstinate that they either could no longer hear God’s voice or wouldn’t listen to it.
I wonder how many churches could be listed under this same category. Could it be that God is just sitting up in heaven waiting for a certain generation of leaders to die off so that He can revisit these churches and begin doing fresh, exciting work in them? I also wonder about myself. As I get older and become more opinionated and set in my own ways, what kind of a church member do I make? Am I part of the solution or the problem? These are questions that all of us “over 50” Christians need to ask ourselves. I know one thing for sure: I certainly don’t want to die and be buried in a wilderness when a Canaan is there for the claiming.