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OLDER Folks 

 Yes, We said Older Folks! It is a blessing to be able to see another birthday..Amen! 

We live in a society where people dread getting old. What is constitute being "old" anyway? Well like most things regarding a matter of opinion it would depend on who you ask. 

When researchers at the Pew Research Center put this old age question and many others to nearly 3,000 adults, ranging in age from 18 to well over 65, the answers were revealing. Like many other questions in life, the definition of old age depends on who you ask.

As explained in Growing Old in America: Expectations vs. Reality, the report based on the Pew study, if you average all of the responses together the average answer is clear: Old age begins at 68.

On the other hand, the average response of adults under 30 is that old age begins at 60. More than half of the adults in under 30 said that old age actually begins before people hit their 60th birthday.

We will define older on this website as those who have reached the age of 40. If you are 40 or above 40 in age you are an amazing group of people! You have seen the last of many of the "old paths" of this life. Things like when you ate food it was really healthy to eat and it tasted good, when people actually believed in customer service, when most of us believed in rearing our children and when there was a genuine respect for God and moral values. All is not lost.While the age group can be classified in 3 stages of life we can still do something to help the generations still under 40. We will call this the "Half time" group (40 to 55), "3rd quarter" group (56-74) and the "4th quarter" group (75-90) over 91 "overtime". 

We read a Barna report about how young people today take a different approach to the Bible than previous generations and I have to admit that as I look at the overall landscape, I do see it.  Of course, not all young people hold these perspectives but enough do that it should raise some questions.

The report is not saying that young people do not value the Bible or that they never read it.  Rather, it refers to the perceptions of young people toward the Bible, which would, in turn, affect the way they approach Bible study.  The report notes the following changes in young people from older generations.  For descriptions of the following perceptions, go to the Barna Report.

  1. less sacred

  2. less accurate

  3. more universalism

  4. skepticism of origins

  5. less engagement

  6. Bible appetite

The first question I asked myself is, “How did it get this way?”  Once I figure that out, I believe answers to how to change the tide will become more evident.

Surely it did not get this way overnight.  And, change will not come by throwing on a few bandaids.  The seeds were undoubtedly planted over the course of time and the roots go deep.  If that is true, it means change must begin with the older generations as obviously we have been the ones who planted the seeds.  What have we done, or not done, that led young people to view the Bible in these ways?

Surely we must also factor in the influence of the world with all of its relativistic and universal thinking.  In light of Romans 12:1-2, any change of perspective is going to be a transformation “by the renewing of the mind.”  What must that look like in discipleship efforts with young people?

I must say that I am encouraged by the last point on Barna’s list.  Young people do have an appetite for the Bible, an “interest in gaining additional Bible knowledge” that scores higher than other generations.  That’s encouraging.  That gives hope that the tide can change. 

No matter what "quarter" of life we are living in, we  all can make a difference in order to reach young people and our age group! 

But it also brings me back to those of us in older generations.  If we don’t have as much of an appetite for the Word, perhaps then we haven’t been modeling an approach to the Bible that communicates its worth and sufficiency.  Have we forsaken our first love?  If so, let’s be reminded of Jesus’ words to the church of Ephesus in Revelation 2:5 —

Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

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