What kind of Christian will I be at age 70?
When I’m 70, my wife, Kayci, and I will celebrate our 49th year of marriage. My kids will be in their 40s — and my grandkids might be graduating from high school.
I’ll still be faithfully cheering for the Cowboys, Mavs, Rangers and Huskers. Hopefully, one of them will have won a championship by then.
I’ll still read books (most likely, on an electronic device of some kind). Unfortunately, I won’t eagerly be awaiting the 58th season of “24.”
Most importantly, I hope I will be active in life-engaged ministries of reconciliation.
I don’t know what the church will look like in 40 years. If I read my generation right, I think the lines between denominations will be very thin. I think more churches will be actively involved in a number of humanitarian efforts — meaning that they will have a voice at the table of worldwide conversations concerning AIDS awareness, value of life, child-slavery, global poverty, education and women’s rights.
I think the best evangelism will happen in neighborhoods, jobs and in places where Christ-followers choose to live with intentionality and purpose. It won’t happen so much with persuasive arguments, but with lives that bear the fruit of something to be imitated.
I have been in ministry for a decade now. I have seen a lot. I have experienced a lot.
One of the great pleasures and challenges as a minister in the Western world in the 21st century is that I speak to five generations every Sunday.
Some of our oldest members vividly remember World War II.
Some of our teens, about to graduate from high school, weren’t even born until the early 1990s — when “Saved by the Bell” was going off the air. That makes me feel old at the humble age of 30.
After years of observing the multiple generations that comprise our church, I have developed four principles I want to live by when I’m 70:
• I do not want to be driven by fear. I want to learn to live the central message of Galatians 5 — that in Christ we have been set free. I want to witness all forms of impossibilities bowing down to the power of the resurrection of Jesus. I want to be fearless.
• I want mission to trump all forms of traditionalism. Traditions aren’t bad. I know that. But when traditions become doctrine, they become toxic.
Too many times we want to be part of a church that does Sunday morning “right” before we are interested in joining in its mission or vision.
I don’t want to live that way. I want to join in a faith community because I am eager to get in on the mission of God in that place.
• I don’t want to care about comfort. Yes, I’m sure that comfort will be a major concern when I’m 70. I will be popping in all kinds of vitamins and pills, and I likely will invest in a comfortable recliner.
When it comes to the church, I don’t want comfort to be the key to a joyful existence with my brothers and sisters in Christ. I hope to be at a place where I am eager to join in daring, creative, adventurous attempts to present Jesus to everyone in every way.
• I want to be an encourager to help people dream with God, especially for young ministers. I don’t want to confine future leaders by relentlessly asking them to duplicate the church of my past.
I want to be able to let go of the church of my upbringing and to help the generations under me to dream with God of what the Gospel needs to look like to reach the people of the second half of the 21st century.
If it means that I need to sing songs that just don’t do it for me, I want to sing them with passion. If it means that I need to serve in a soup kitchen full of prostitutes and drug addicts, I want to be at the table. If that means that I need to dye my hair blue to reach some kids, I want to do it.
I want the spirit of Paul to be in me. “I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some.”
Age 70 seems like it’s a long way off, but I want to set in motion some principles and disciplines that will form me into a person who thinks, lives and breathes the gospel story of Jesus.
When I turn 70, I hope someone will dig up this column and hold me accountable.
JOSH ROSS is preaching minister for the Sycamore View Church of Christ in Memphis, Tenn. He and his wife, Kayci, have two boys, Truitt and Noah. Contact him at [email protected].
FeedbackWhat should history tell?…My church in Middle TN of 78 years ago was very different…so influenced by David Lipscomb and GOSPEL ADVOCATE. At toadys’ change rate even more changes will surely transpire for my grandchildren. I felt confident that we were the ones who had kept the faith, excluding all others.
No longer must we trust in writings of mem, yes, good men, but often unwilling to ignore existing traditions and to search the Bible without bias. In 70 years hence the church will reflect different values. In addition to maintaining Bibical integrety, more emphases will be placed on missions and concern and care for God’s children and less for just maintaining a FORM of worship. This is my prayer.Bob WaltersBroad Street CoCLaGrange, GA
USDecember, 13 2010