Read Lead Pastor Duane Mabee's weekly Pastor's Ponderings here!
Lord, Send Us More Eleanorsby Duane Mabee on June 21, 2018
I’ve been reading, For a New Generation: A Practical Guide for Revitalizing Your Church, by Lee Kricher. It’s a good book. Though, I’m not inclined to do revitalization the way Kricher did, (I don’t want you to panic if you decide to read the book), he writes about things we need to seriously wrestle with.
Last week, I wrote about a comment radio pastor Donald Cole made about reaching the next generation. Kricher tells a similar story and it brought me to tears. The church had made radical changes in their ministry in a two-year period.
I find it fascinating that some of those who initially were the most skeptical of our dramatic changes ended up being the biggest supporters. One woman stands out to me: Eleanor Evans. I recently conducted her funeral when she died at age ninety-five. Eleanor had attended the church for almost thirty years. She was in her mid-eighties when the church started to change, but she didn’t leave like many of her friends. She stayed. She prayed that the changes would make a real difference in our ability to reach the next generation. She even started to give special offerings toward the transformation of the children’s areas.
After a few years, I had one of my many conversations with Eleanor. I assumed that she had warmed up to the changes we made to the adult service. I asked her if the new style of music had grown on her. She said, “No. I don’t really care for the new music. I wear earplugs because it is loud.” I was somewhat taken aback, and I asked her, “Why do you keep coming and praying and giving?” She said, “Because now my children and my grandchildren will come to church with me. And I look around every week at the children and grandchildren of others who are filling our church. That means everything to me.”
I remember one Sunday morning right before the service started when Eleanor called me over to her seat on the end of the third row in the middle aisle. She pointed out to me the people of all ages who were pouring into our sanctuary. She exclaimed, “I don’t even recognize my own church!” Her words were not spoken in anger or dismay. Her words were spoken in wonder and gratitude at God’s amazing work.
Father God, please multiple Eleanors of all ages throughout Your Church worldwide. Give us many more people like her who are passionate about the expansion of Your Kingdom, and eager to see churches filled with people of every generation. Give us eyes to see what she saw, hearts that rejoice over what You’re doing, and the willingness to engage even when it is different from what we prefer, so that we can effectively reach the next generation. Amen.