A recent study by get me my mortgage showed that over the last 75 years over 8000 churches have been permanently closed. To makes changes in a particular church to make it more modern and appealing to younger people doesn’t mean that the basic teachings of the church are put in jeopardy.
Unfortunately, these changes in a church and the feelings of older people, those who might have gone to this same church for many years, are sometimes in conflict.
Resistance to Change and Being Elderly
In general, the resistance of older people to changes in the church can be seen as a reflection of what it means to be elderly in the first place. This is to say that the problems that are associated with being old can overlap into a basic reluctance to accept changes in the church.
Older people view changes in the church from the position of vulnerability. They have too much time on their hands and are sometimes too physically fragile to make the same commitments as before.
Further, if older people have conflicted feelings regarding changes in the church, it’s perhaps because they feel just a bit betrayed. After all, these elderly people have invested time to create a certain kind of church and this memory of the traditional church is set in their minds.
If they’ve contributed so much to establishing a particular church atmosphere, why then is change needed?
Changes in the church and the feelings of older people are brought into conflict for other reasons.
Simply put, changes in the church magnifies the sense of loss older people feel. It’s bad enough that they miss their friends who have died.
Now they are being asked to adjust to more modern music when they prefer the traditional hymns, for example.
Older people might also find it difficult to relate to those younger newcomers whose attitudes may seem more frivolous and non-traditional.
Once again, the basic issue of being old is difficult enough for people to have to deal with.
Now they are expected to welcome changes in the church on behalf of younger men and women with whom the elderly have very little in common.
With this in mind, it’s easy to understand why changes in the church and the feelings of older people are often at odds.
The principles of the Bible remain the same, and changes in the church are not meant to put the basic teachings of the church in jeopardy.
And yet, because of the basic vulnerability which is associated with being old, changes in the church too often magnify an already hurtful situation and make older people resistant to change.