Age is an interesting thing, isn’t it? The way we view aging says a lot about the way we live our lives and serve the Lord. Do we retire from serving the Lord? Does the church minister “to” elders, or do we continue to minister “with” them, regardless of age? A lot of what we decide to do is in our perspective.

We live in a time when there are more elders in our society and in the church than ever before. Studies show that one in seven people living in our country is age 65 or older. In 2040, the ratio is projected to be one in five. By 2035, our country is expected to have more elders than people under the age of 18.

A lot of people like the idea of living a long life, but the thought of getting old is not one we want to think about. Research shows that the words “senior” and “senior adult” have negative connotations in our society. The words “elder” and “older adult” have a more positive image. Perhaps someday we will settle on words that reflect a positive image of aging.

There are countries in our world that celebrate elders. Our society’s negative view of aging may diminish the ability of some people to live a full and complete life.

How should we view an aging Christian? I want to suggest four ways to help us gain a better perspective.

  1. We should view an elder as a person who is going to live forever.

Heaven is our home. It is true that our bodies are aging, and that we will be absent from them one day; but eternal life is forever. I prefer to consider a 90-year-old elder who is in Christ as young instead of old. After all, what is 90 years in the context of forever? Pretty young, huh? A person who has life in Christ is going to live forever.

  1. We should value an elder the way Christ values them.

Our society views an elder as a person whose value is diminishing, whose best days are behind them and who has little to contribute. God values His children of all ages. He is faithful in all seasons of life. His mercies are new every morning. Every day is a day full of possibilities in Christ. Value all people like Christ values people.

  1. The Great Commission is always the mission.

The church should have the expectation that an elder in Christ desires to engage in the Great Commission all their life. We like to use the word “retire” in our society. One definition of the word “retire” is “to be put on a shelf.” No Christian wants that. We want to serve the Lord. We know the importance of missions, discipleship and evangelism.

Elders in our society are open to Gospel conversations. We have a great opportunity to advance the Gospel in and through elders in the church. If you are an elder, get up, get off the shelf (if you are on it) and go into all the world sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.

  1. Spiritual Gifts are for life.

One of the Christian’s greatest joys and opportunities is to use spiritual gifts in the church. This is also a test of stewardship. What is our expectation of one another as Christians? My expectation is that all of us, regardless of age, and as we are able physically, are engaged in joyfully serving the Lord using our spiritual gifts.

There are more elders than ever before in our churches who have more quality years than ever to serve the Lord and advance the Gospel. Here is a reminder to the church, to elders and to all of us: We find joy in serving the Master, regardless of age.

Let’s pray for a mighty movement of God among elders in and through the church.