By His own description, from June this year God will not be welcome at the Grove United Methodist Church in Cottage Grove, Minnesota. It has asked its older members to leave and worship somewhere else. It’s certainly no place for Someone who has called Himself ‘The Ancient of Days.’
The church will close down in June, and it will open again in November. No physical renovation is taking place, and the name will stay the same. Just that older members will not be welcome. They won’t be physically barred from attending, but the expectation is that they won’t. They can contact the pastor after two years if they want to return.
They have also been asked to look after the church until it opens in November. Current member Cheryl Gacksletter said, ‘We are supposed to be silent partners, and still give money.’
Stella and Jon Knapp (34), the only members with children at a recent service said they hate the plan. They have been members for six years and love the church, and don’t mind being the youngest members. ‘This church is very kind to us and our children,’ he said.
A 30 year old specialist in starting new churches has been brought on board to reset it as a church for the young. It is to be ‘a new thing with a new mission for a new target and a new culture.’
Since word got out there have been attempts at reframing the issue in some press, but stories are at best a good fudge. Come June, older people out: stay away until we’ve got the new culture.
An atheist website picked up the story and wrote –
‘The most interesting thing about all this is that the church leaders freely admit this is their plan. This is not some media invention or left-wing conspiracy. They are seriously trying to kick out the old people in order to rebrand themselves as a place for young people. Because nothing expresses the love of Christ more than a church giving members an expiration date.
‘Why would anyone want to join a church like this? Should make one hell of a sermon in November.’
Surely it’s unscriptural to focus a church only on the young? We are told to reach all people. The apostle John writes, ‘I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who is from the beginning. I’m writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one,’ 1 John 2:13. And Paul’s letter to Titus outlines the roles for young and old in the church.
It would be good to see more teaching for our seniors on evangelising older people who, let’s face it, have less time to make a choice that affects them more deeply than they realise. Proverbs 24: 11,12 says, ‘Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not He who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not He who guards your life know it? Will He not repay everyone according to what they have done?’ It was written in a different context, but the principle applies here.
Perhaps the Methodist Church leaders believe the myth that the young are the future of the church. My good friend and Bible scholar, Revd Roger Hitchings, points out that Jesus said that ‘God is able to ‘raise sons of Abraham out of these very stones,’ Matthew 3:9.
Back to Grove United Methodist Church in Cottage Grove, Minnesota. If the church achieves its new setting (for the young) what will happen when they grow old? Will it be a revolving door?
Has anyone asked ‘The Ancient of Days’ what He thinks about it?