Young Enough to Serve or Old Enough to Sever?
Pastors and churches have a right and responsibility to shut down Herb & Mabel Castaway’s eight-track tape ministry that is no longer reaching anyone.
But where do Herb & Mabel go from here? This depends largely on their level of spiritual maturity and also on how attentive their pastors and leaders are to their continuing need for usefulness in God’s kingdom.
We have witnessed Herb & Mabel, with superglue on their baton, fighting until their last breath to hang on to their now antiquated ministry that God birthed in their hearts back in the seventies. They may have already left your church, hurt and angry, taking their eight-tracks and tithe dollars with them. And, except for their tithes, you’re more than happy to let them go---to a less progressive and dying church down the street. Or we might find them sitting at home watching another church on their big box TV (the one with the rabbit-ears antenna).
We have also seen some Herbs & Mabels reluctantly accept their own obsolescence and conclude that their days of serving the Lord are basically over. They remain part of your church but feel deflated and useless as your church’s senior adult bus whisks them off to see the lilac fields in bloom.
Herb & Mabel are part of the tech-less minority. We support missionaries passionate about reaching out to poor and forgotten folks like them across the globe, but we tend to ignore, blame and marginalize them here at home. They should have changed with the times! Yes, that’s true, but they didn’t---even under your brilliant teaching and leadership. Now faithful missionary supporters Herb & Mabel find themselves in the fraternity of a hidden people group here in America---not unreached but invisible and expendable.
Maybe there’s a better way. Can we help Herb & Mabel shift gears and make disciples? Can we think creatively about their potential to reach out to others, including people like themselves still living sans 21stcentury technology? You know, people on the fringes---the neglected ones Jesus chose to hang out with and surprise with His love.
Equip them with basic toolkits to personally visit and share your weekly podcasts with shut-ins in your community who have no computers. Have them serve as class grandparents at your Christian school or kids’ church, and be sure they include a colorful lesson using ancient eight-track technology. (Throw in phonographs, reel-to-reel and cassette decks---and they’ve got a ready-made four-week series that will fascinate the kids!) Do some reverse mentoring, where youth in your church help Herb & Mabel with some basic computer skills.
Stay cutting edge but don’t leave Herb & Mabel on the cutting floor, feeling edgy and edged out. Their eight tracks are perishable commodities, but they are imperishable.
The head cannot not say to the foot, “I have no need of you.”
Of course not! You’re their leader, and you’re not going to let that happen!
Visit Ageless Faith on the YES! resources page for a two-part podcast pertaining to this article; 051 AND 052.