It is a well-known phenomenon that many churches in the western world are filled only by the seniors – younger members of the congregation have fled elsewhere, preferring the comfort of science, alternative philosophies, career, or other substitutes. Some churches adopt contemporary methods in attracting and maintaining their flock – jazzed-up choruses and hymns complete with boppy music, state-of-the-art audio visual and lighting facilities. I don’t consider myself as a senior – well, that’s because I’m still a spring chicken compared to them. 🙂 I also attend a church which has a music ministry – drums and percussions, guitar, bass, keyboard – and I sometimes go to a local church that certainly fits the description that I write above: great music, great audio visual, great lighting, but still with great punchy spiritual teaching as well.
Last week, my pastor asked me to go with him to Salvation Army Unley Corps‘ 125 anniversary celebration, held today. When he asked me, I honestly didn’t feel like going at all. I prefer to get up later during the weekend to catch up on the sleep that I miss during the week – well, he told me that I needed to be at the Salvation Army hall at 9.30am. Our church starts at 2.00pm, which gives me ample time every Sunday to get up a bit later and do my chores around the house. The reason why we are involved with the Salvation Army is because they were there for us when we didn’t have a church hall to use. They allowed us to use their hall and facilities for many years before we moved elsewhere. From time to time we still use their hall for rehearsals or for services, if the building that we use at present is doubly-booked for some reasons. We have become great partners in Christ.
I am glad that I went along to the celebration, even if I had to walk for 2.5+ kms to the Salvation Army hall because I stopped my bus too early *grin*. God still wants me to exercise … haha!
Yes, there were so many seniors in the room – I think 80% of those who attended the service were probably in their 50’s or older. The Salvation Army Unley Corps have implement audio visual equipments in the hall, the music is modernised and the choice of songs includes some of the contemporary choruses as well. However, at the heart of it still lies the good old-fashioned sincere church service – and it touched my heart deeply. Just to see silver-haired people faithfully attending the same church for twenty, thirty, even sixty years was enough to make my eyes moist. They have faithfully come to same church not to be wowed by audio visual or vocal gymnastics of the worship leader. Some of them were ex-addicts, ex-homeless people who were saved by the grace of God through the Salvation Army’s works. They’re not there to be entertained by sacchariney gospel love songs. They’re there to fulfill their purpose and to hold on to the faith that has been instilled in their heart. That’s what makes them special.
The special guest for the celebration was General Eva Burrows – an 80-year old lady who used to be the global leader of the Salvation Army. Just to hear her speak of her passion for God is enough to empower me to be stronger for God. My denomination may not be the same as hers, but again, what is denomination when we believe in the same God and have the same faith in Jesus? She reads the following passage from Ephesians 3:14-20, a sweet and wonderful prayer from Paul to the Ephesians:
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
I want to be like the seniors, if God gives me long years, to hold on to my faith, even when the music is simple, or even if the church doesn’t have the latest equipment to do religious razzamatazz. I just need my spiritual food and a good family of God to belong to. I don’t want to be entertained, I just want to meet God.