Posts Tagged ‘Old Guard’

Ineffective Outreach: Pt 3/3. What About the Old Guard?

November 9, 2009

So what about the old guard?

It is important to recognize who the old guard is.  I believe that when we think “old guard” we think about the select group of saints who have figured out a way to turn white hair purple, the most senior in age among us.  That is a stereotype that has a grain of truth but only defines a small percentage of “old guards”.  In my opinion, the old guard is anybody who can be seen as a church’s core membership and or loyal servants to the kingdom and people who step up to defend or protect a method or way that they favor.  These people can be young (perhaps even high school young) these people can be middle age (like I am), these people can be my grandma (nearing the three digit age).  Yes, at 33 I am the old guard.  Yes, I have to be careful about protecting and idolizing my ways at the expense of my neighbor’s worship offering.

I think when we contemplate the old guard; it is good to recognize that they are not always in error.  We have to apply critical thought and consider what it is that they are protecting.  I think the important question here is to root out whether or not they are protecting something for their sake, or because it actually has some valuable contribution to the growth kingdom.  Do they defend hymns because they believe that hymns enhance or make our worship offering better?  Or do they defend hymns because hymns are actually spiritually better? (Hint: hymns are not actually spiritually better.)

It is important to realize that it is the leadership’s responsibility to continually grow everybody in the congregation, including those who are “old guard.”  Even more important, it is good to grow everybody where they are the weakest.  The church has a strong contingent of people who constantly push for what they want in our worship offering, insisting that what they want is the better thing to have.  Those of us who are in leadership positions tend to just give them what they want, or if we deny them what they want, we and then don’t take the time to explain to them what real worship is.  Consequently we have a body of people who don’t really understand what worship is, we have a body of people that are given to idolatry.

So what to do?  The leadership needs to find a congregation’s weakness and train in that direction.  Back in high school and shortly after, I was into weight training.  There was a weight machine that only had maybe 5-10 pounds max on it.  Naturally, I avoided it.  10 pounds is just stupid right?  On a whim I decided to get myself a trainer.  We talked and after a bit the trainer started talking up this machine.  “What is the point?” I asked.  As it turned out, the machine worked a little tiny muscle in a particular direction.  While those few extra pounds of strength on that one muscle seemed a little silly, the consequence for the other muscles was noticeable.  Strengthening in that little way helped my entire arm quite a bit!

The second thing on the to do list should revolve around creating a culture of holistic training and accountability and not letting things slide that we think are small or inconsequential.  I firmly believe that idolatry is prominent now because we continually let little things slide, especially when it comes to the “old guard”.

We tend to be worried about offending, or we think other things have more importance that we overlook little things now that might become big things later.  Many march on a mantra of peace at all costs thus compromising truth because we fear that something might be too divisive.  So when old guard Lucy says “I worship better with Hymns” we don’t council with Lucy about learning to worship without.  Instead, we hand Lucy some Hymns which tends to reaffirm to her that Hymns help her worship offering.  When old guard John establishes that he worships better with choruses, we don’t council Jon about the merits of worshiping to ones fullest no matter the music, instead we give John his choruses!

So here we have a very broad spectrum essay that encompasses a wide variety of things – all in an attempt to answer a question concerning the decline of the Church population and how technology might act as an aid in rejuvenating the body’s mission that we have when it comes to evangelism.  We are losing the lost because we are too self focused, we will not be able to use technology as effectively we can as long as we stifle innovation to keep the old guard happy.  Ultimately we need to gut up and strengthen ourselves where we are showing weakness, cleanse the church of its idols and then take advantage of the innovative and new methods that God provides for us to use for His benefit and for the benefit of those that do not know Him.