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20 Quotes Warning Against Ageism in the Church

MsDora, former teacher and counselor, is fascinated by the prospect of joyful aging. She explores and shares habits of happy seniors.

Willful discrimination against people because of their age is called ageism.

Willful discrimination against people because of their age is called ageism.

My heart is saddened for churches that push older leaders aside to make room for ambitious younger members. Such action demonstrates lack of compassion, lack of insight, and lack of creativity. For, with a sense of our God-given purpose, an appreciation for spiritual gifts, and our focus on the church’s mission, we can create ways for qualified seniors and youth to share leadership. That will be the theme of a future article.

Here, I want to point out that this willful discrimination against people because of their age is called ageism, which, even in social circles, is frowned upon. So why is it being advocated in the church which cherishes an anti-discrimination Bible as its guide? And how do we plan to deal with the fact that more old members are hanging around longer?

The following quotes cite warnings against embracing ageism in the church. They will help us realize that this divisive feature can weaken, not strengthen, the effectiveness of the church and the faith of its members. Affiliations or positions are attached to each person quoted, to highlight the fact that they speak from experience, not just from conjecture. These twenty quotes are humbly submitted for our consideration.

Observations

1. “Ageism prevents many people of all ages from seeing that potentials are as bountiful as problems among older adults… It diminishes the church's witness and mission.” —UM Discipleship Ministries

2. “Some of our negative images of the aging process arise out of … ‘facts’ about older people, many of which are not facts at all… For example: ‘All old people resist new ideas…All old people are senile.’” —UCC Parish Life and Leadership Ministry

3. “It hurts to be rejected on the basis of age as surely as it hurts to be rejected because of gender or race or any other unavoidable trait.” —Bishop Kenneth L. Carder

4. “As church leaders, we cannot afford to overlook the value that older staff bring to the table, especially at the initial stage of exploration… The Lord has a pattern of choosing the ones we did not expect.” —Vanderbloemen, Pastor and Author

5. “Up until a certain age you're an active Christian, you've got a calling, you've got a ministry…and then you've hit the age of 65/70…And now you're not valuable… God never puts a retirement age on Christianity." —Steve Robinson, Prama Foundation

6. “How many times have older staff been cut in the name of stewardship? And how many churches are intentional about investing in the spiritual growth of people over 50?” —Steve Johnson, Insight for Living

7. “There is no end-point in Ephesians 2:10 [For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works]. The ‘good works’ it mentions are for life.” —Louise Morse, Pilgrims Friends Society

8. “We must all stand up for justice, and no one is better equipped to do so than the older pastor, in whom God, through the grace of time, may have begun to create wisdom.” —John Charles Cooper, Theologian

9. "Partnering young and old is key for any church tech team. That way, ministries get the benefit of high-energy and flexibility along with the invaluable ingredients of wisdom and maturity." —Van Metschke, Church Relations Advocate

10. “Ageism may have been adapted to suit perceived cultural context, but … its implementation has served to severely divide the church at its most needful point of unity, Christian worship.” —Dr. Paul Clark, Jr., Tennessee Baptist Convention

We cannot afford to overlook the value that older staff bring to the table.

We cannot afford to overlook the value that older staff bring to the table.

First Person Experiences

11. "By the way, for those who want to know, President Joe Biden and I are the same age. And he’s still working." —Tom Buechele, Episcopal Cafe

12. “All of us who are 65 and older have experienced some form of ageism — even though we perhaps have not been aware of it.” — Herb Bowman, UM Committee on Older Adult Ministries

13. "I try to remind leaders in our churches and in our Conference, that the emphasis we place on 'getting young people involved' is important. But don’t do it at the expense of abandoning the older members." —Paul Graves, PNW Conference

14. "I’ll never forget my first round of layoffs in the corporate world… They kept the cheap labor… Don’t do this in your church. Even worse, don’t cut people in the name of “stewardship,” because the Bible has a much grander view of stewardship than mere cash flow.” —Sam Rainer, Pastor

15. "Most multi-ethnic churches have multi-ethnic staff. I, for one, champion this movement... Churches should serve all people, which includes generational diversity—in the congregation and on staff." —Sam Rainer, Pastor

Bible Verses for Consideration

16. "Young men and women alike, old and young together! Let them praise the name of the Lord." —Psalm 148:12-13 CSB

17. "God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us new people so that we would spend our lives doing the good things he had already planned for us to do." —Ephesians 2:10 ERV (Emphasis mine)

18. "One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts." —Psalm 145:4 ESV

19. "All of you young people should obey your elders. In fact, everyone should be humble toward everyone else." —1 Peter 5:5 CEV

20. "I really am learning that God doesn’t show partiality to one group of people over another." —Acts 10:34 CEB

Bonus Quotes for Victims of Ageism

  • "Challenge yourself to challenge ageism whenever and however you can, confident that your challenge is an act of faith and hope." —Paul Graves, PNW Conference
  • "Don’t be guilty of trying to act younger... Learn what it means to age well." Steve Johnson, Insight for Living

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© 2021 Dora Weithers

Comments

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on April 14, 2021:

Oh dear! Well you figured it out, Shauna. You relationship with God is the most important. Enjoy your fellowship with Him.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on April 14, 2021:

Dora, I was raised Catholic, went to Catholic school and church. As an adult I choose not to go, but I still have a relationship with God. I talk to him all the time and don't feel the need to go into a designated area to do so. Besides, when I go to church, the singing makes me cry uncontrollably.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on April 14, 2021:

Thanks, Shauna. Although some bad things happen at church, there are benefits to attending. Hope you will some time. No pressure.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on April 14, 2021:

Thanks, Mary. Your wisdom shines through right here. It will work itself out.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on April 14, 2021:

Dora, not having been to church in decades, I wasn't aware of ageism in the church. That's so un-Christian like. I love the quote that says God doesn't have a retirement age for Christianity. So true!

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on April 14, 2021:

It's great that you highlighted this issue of society disregarding the aged. I think all of us have to grow in wisdom and as such we affect each other negatively at times but I think that everything that happens is exactly what we need however young or old we are. We flow with it.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on April 12, 2021:

Thanks, Manatita. What happens in your organization seems like cooperation and team work.Both the seniors and the youths are engaged. Thank you for sharing.

What's ageist is when the older person is qualified and able and pushed aside for no other reason than his age. I am not advocating that old people insist on holding positions that they cannot handle. If they do, we have to help them mature.

Thanks again for sharing your experience and your views.

manatita44 from london on April 12, 2021:

It is a very difficult one, Dee, as humans will be humans. I do not support it, but I see it happening personally in many institutions. Even with patients in hospitals. When it comes down to a selection process, humans become practical, if that's the word.

I am very, or rather exceptionally good at interviews. I failed my first one in my fifties. The Agency said they wanted to know my age and sexual preference and I never heard from them again. Now the law forbids it but people still do it.

Now let's look at the other side. It does not diminish numbers but increase it, especially in Spiritual groups. Many of the young coming now are coming with University education and great technical and other skills. They bring 'know-how, vibrancy and dynamism and get so much more done!

All our strong Centres have younger people. We see them and we know that youth has something to do with it. They are better at computer and video skills and are more resourceful in so many, many ways! For an active organisation like ours, it's a bonus, especially when it comes to discipling. (Manifestation)

Yet we older folks are still useful and Guru ji would encourage us all. Just that we begin to take on different roles. Africa was one of my major manifestations. But my last one in 2019 was tiring. I planned for a year and led a Team of seven across five countries: Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.

I got help with the logistics and the younger folks were infinitely better at uploading stuff on the internet. Some of our manifestation in schools would be on the net in minutes! I had to plan transportation, airline tickets and fares, health and vaccinations, visas and border crossings, hotels, food, schools and dignitaries ... so much involved!

Your point is very valid but businesses run that way as they can see the stagnation as the person gets older. Many GP's learn much more from their own children, as new ideas are happening constantly. But yes, we are all valued. One just takes a different role. In my case, i still attend many seminars, but I do not volunteer so much now. Age is cool but I'm saying that it does have limits too. Peace.

Misbah Sheikh from The World of Poets on April 12, 2021:

Thanks a lot, MsDora. No problems.

Much appreciated

Blessings and love

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on April 12, 2021:

Misbah, I still haven't found your article in the feed, but please know that I think you did an awesome job. Sure, friendship is difficult to define, but you taught quite a lot about it. Thanks.

Misbah Sheikh from The World of Poets on April 12, 2021:

Thanks a lot, MsDora, I am glad you like my last hub. You honored me, Much Gratitude. You are most welcome to make a comment.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on April 12, 2021:

True, Brenda. We can grow together. Happy that your church finally considered the worship benefit to the older members.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on April 12, 2021:

Thanks, James. The Bible teachings are sometimes pushed aside or not considered at all, when folks have ungodly motives in mind. You're right about us learning wisdom from those who live long.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on April 12, 2021:

Thanks, Peggy. The way it was still seems to be better than the way it is with folks presenting all kind of reasons to separate the young and the old. We need each other, and we learn from each other.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on April 12, 2021:

Ms Dora,

What a wonderful article.

It is important to bring young people to the church.

But your story reminds me about the church I attend or rather did before Covid.

I haven't been there mich since they let people choose whether or not to wear a mask.

In any case, our church began singing new songs. Ones the kids could relate too...but the older folk had no idea.

They created a live band to be on stage, much like the ones you see on Television.

Many of our older congregation left the church to go somewhere a bit quieter.

A few have come back, as the church has toned down things a bit.

There is still a band on stage but it's not as loud. We do still stand up, but people are encouraged to stay seated if they need too.

We have a club 55 which is for 55 and older that do many activities together during the month.

There are alot of groups and bible studies. Even a self defense class & a group that hives out food weekly to those in need.

I believe we need everyone in the church to grow together.

James C Moore from Joliet, IL on April 12, 2021:

Your list of quotes is so on point. The Scriptures point out that we need both the youthful energy and the experience and wisdom that comes with living long. I belong to a church body whose past two international leaders retired while still capable. This was done more for easing the succession process than any bias on our parts. Enlightened read.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 12, 2021:

Number 9 is an excellent example of how everyone would benefit from combining young and old in every type of gathering, whether religious or not. Families used to take in their older family members if they were single, widowed, or in need of help. In some cultures, that is still the case. That is the way it should be everywhere, in my opinion.

Your topic is a good one to awaken people's consciences and make them think about right and wrong regarding the aging people in our lives, churches, businesses, etc.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on April 12, 2021:

Happy Monday, Bill. Thanks as usual, for your encouragement.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 12, 2021:

A lovely read, Dora, filled with wisdom. You have given me much to think about on this Monday. Thank you for a very timely article.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on April 12, 2021:

Chrish, thanks for reading and offering such a kind comment. Best of God's favor to you as well.

Chrish Canosa from Manila Philippines on April 12, 2021:

Great quotes Ms Dora. Parents should pay more attention raising their soldiers (kids) making sure they will take the right path and equipped with compassion and great respect Before deployiNg. I absolutely agree with your point of view. My mom would say, (if you have faith in God, that's all that matters) but don't forget respecting any religios beliefs, because who are we to say that we're right and their wrong. Lots of love and kisses... May everyone find peace of mind in God's unconditional love (wink)

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on April 12, 2021:

Thanks, Ann. You're so right about the value of experience. Happy that ageism is not practiced everywhere.

Ann Carr from SW England on April 12, 2021:

Wonderful quotes, Dora. You are right to highlight such an issue. I'm not sure that applies here in Britain as I haven't come across it and most that I know of, in the public eye or not, are middle- or above average aged.

It doesn't make sense to devalue experience and thereby wisdom. How much more those people can teach and pass on! Your idea of working side by side is much better. The elders can pass on their knowledge and the younger ones can learn and be enriched because of it, going on to do the same for others.

Of course, this applies to so many walks of life, though in the mainstream it seems to be improving.

Great hub, Dora.

Ann

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on April 12, 2021:

Thanks, Devika. I totally agree with you that home training has much to do with our respect for elders. We all, especially the young and inexperienced have much to learn.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on April 12, 2021:

MsDora, It is sad, and frustrating when such rudeness affects people and the elderly. Most parents do not care about how they are raising their children. Their lifestyles have changed the way they think and do for their families. Having babies at a young age has a lot to do with it. Children growing up in broken families have no respect for anyone else including their parents. It all begins at home. If not at home these children won't learn anything better from street life.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on April 12, 2021:

Misbah, I applaud the Pakistani culture as it relates to respect for elders. I wish that more of us cherished our elders the way you do. Thanks for sharing your very wise attitude.

By the way, I love your last article. Still trying to respond.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on April 12, 2021:

Chitrangada, thanks for your affirmation. Hopefully, those who practice ageism will learn the importance of having youth and age work together.

Misbah Sheikh from The World of Poets on April 11, 2021:

MsDora, I can't say it about anyone else but in my home, my parents have always taught me to respect elders. I always prefer to sit between elders than sitting with youngsters or of my age. I believe they are wise and have more experience and knowledge, I don't have yet. My friends use to make fun of me a lot of times calling me old spirit but who cares. Maybe, they don't know about what I am gaining and they are losing. Even on HP, mostly people, I am following are older than me. I am friends with people of my age as well, but I think they are partners for having a fun time, for making pranks, singing songs together etc. I do enjoy there company as well but they definitely don't have a lot of experience and wisdom as elders have. I am from the east part of the world, from Pakistan. And Pakistani people love their elders a lot. They always consider them precious and are the ones who take important decisions for the family. My heart breaks when in the west part of the world. I see children leaving their parents and grandparents when they get old, and they die anonymous death in old homes. There are few people in the west part of the world as well who cares about their elders, but they are very rare and few. The elders should be considered as most important as they are full of wisdom. I believe, Age enhances the value of the person. Elder people are full of wisdom and I Love them for they know what I don't.

Thanks for sharing this beautiful piece.

Blessings and love

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on April 11, 2021:

Great article about ageism and meaningful quotes. I quite agree with quote no. 9

Wisdom and experience of the elderly people and energy of the young is a good combination.

You have raised an important issue in your well written article.

Thank you for sharing.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on April 11, 2021:

Thanks Linda. Sadly, not everyone was taught to respect their elders the way we were taught. They don't realize the wisdom they're missing.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on April 11, 2021:

Thanks, Pamela. The quote you chose summarizes the benefit of seniors and youths working together. Nobody has to move out of any other person's way. that's the way it should be.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on April 11, 2021:

Thank you, Flourish. If I'm facing ageism I haven't noticed, but if I see it, I don't think I'll bow to it. I would hope that I can make it back up.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on April 11, 2021:

Dora, I appreciate your words and am saddened that this could be happening in a place where Jesus loves all. However, I'd have to say that in my church almost the opposite is true. There are many of us who have been there for decades, serving on boards and committees and holding offices within the church. We're getting tired and, honestly, wish that some of the "youngers" would step up to the plate and start to help.

Nevertheless, ageism is a problem within the church and within society. Other cultures revere their elders, recognizing the wisdom that comes with experience and time.

I think of my parents (long ago passed away). So many times I wish I could still talk with them, to obtain their advice, or even just to hear their memories of what once was. My parents were young adults during the Great Depression, and although they told me a few stories there is so much I would like to learn.

Thank you for such a loving, caring, and needed article.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on April 11, 2021:

I think it is sad to push older people aside as older people can share the wisdom of their wisdom that simply takes time to get. I love your observations. This is an excellent article, Ms Dora.

The one I like the best is number 9, "Partnering young and old is key for any church tech team. That way, ministries get the benefit of high-energy and flexibility along with the invaluable ingredients of wisdom and maturity. —Van Metschke"

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 11, 2021:

There is ageism and poor behavior everywhere and it’s sad that one would receive it in a volunteer environment that is based in values of acceptance and love of all. I have seen also that the church has some of the cattiest behavior around — affairs involving preachers, bullying, power dynamics, etc. I learned a very long time ago that it was no refuge but rather a microcosm. I’m sorry if you are facing ageism yourself.

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