Older Shepherding the Younger

February 27, 2009

Great question. This is the biblical model. The older leaders of the church are called “elders” partly because of their age and partly because they should have achieved biblical maturity after many years of following Christ.

This can be done in many ways . . . 

–By matching older believers with new, younger Christians a discipleship ministry.
–By intentionally mixing the ages in various church get-togethers.
–By appointing older, mature believers in every small group.
–By teaching about this from the pulpit.
–By modeling it through having all the leadership involved in mentoring others.
–By setting up ministries that enable older women to teach the younger ones.
–By sending older and younger out to serve the Lord together.
–By having “listening meetings” where the younger can share ideas and ask questions.
–By praying together across generational lines.

Mostly it is a matter of the will. If the leaders of the church value both the younger and the older, then it will happen. I think the best way is for a church to offer many different avenues and not just one way for this sort of discipling to happen. And it will be harder in a church that tends to attract mostly younger people. 

If the church is a family, then there ought to be plenty of room for young and old alike. The younger need to respect the older and the older ought to reach out and teach the younger. See 1 John 2:12-14 suggests that there will be “children,” “young men,” and “fathers” in every fellowship. Each has its place, and in a healthy church we need all three. 


Do you have any thoughts or questions about this post?