Over the years we’ve run into the issue of “age discrimination” in modern worship leading. We’ve posted articles here. We’ve seen forum discussions about it. But sadly, it seems like this is a problem that isn’t going away.
We hear reasons like:
- Our church is primarily younger with a younger target demographic, so we need a more youthful team on stage.
- Folks who are older just don’t “get” the style we are trying to go for, so we usually target young musicians and singers.
- Older worship leaders need to get out of the way and let younger worship leaders take the reigns.
- Older folks just can’t “rock” like younger folks can.
- Older worship leaders just don’t look cool and hip as the young ones.
And a whole host of other reasons.
This makes me sad.
I’m one of those worship leaders who is kind of nearing the end of the MIDDLE phase. I’m not in my 20s, I’m not that overzealous, rocking young worship leader who wants to melt people’s faces or to jump on the latest trend with music. I’m also not in my 50s so I’m not one who has more than two decades of experience and the wisdom that comes from having been around the block more than the youth generation.I’m in my late 30s.
I’m in my late 30s. Sure, I just made some sweeping generalizations about age brackets, but they aren’t unbelievable. I’m approaching the age where a young, hip, cool modern church would automatically disqualify me solely based on my age and “look.” I have gray hair.
But here’s the thing that I believe grieves the heart of the Lord. the Kingdom of God, the Body of Christ, isn’t about appearance or age. It’s not about race or gender. It’s not about class or station. The Kingdom of God is all about loving God and loving one another. It’s about repenting and believing. I can’t remember seeing any Scripture or command anywhere in the Bible that says, “Those that lead worship in Spirit and Truth must also lead in youthfulness and be of hip appearance.”
The notion of TOGETHERNESS runs throughout all of Scripture. Especially in the New Testament. The idea that you can age out of being useful and effective for the Kingdom is sad. It’s not Biblical.
Instead of looking at this even through the well-intentioned lens of older folks must disciple and then pass the torch to the younger folks, I think it would be more beneficial to see it in a different way. Older generations ARE to share the works of the Lord to the next generation for sure. We are to teach and train them up…but I don’t see anywhere in Scripture that says after that discipleship older folks should disappear from Kingdom work.
No! There should be togetherness! Multi-generational interaction. I think it is sad when an older worship leader offers to help and coach a young worship leader and the young worship leader never takes them up on it. I think it is sad when an older worship leader is told they aren’t young enough to participate in THE WORSHIP OFFERING to our God.
Am I the only one that feels this way?
Let’s ponder ways that we can interact and lock arms. Maybe it’s not a stage issue. Maybe young worship leaders can find mentors that they learn and grow from. Currently, I’m participating in a community-wide student event that happens every Sunday all summer. It is student-led, but adult supervised and coached. I wish I could be on stage worshiping WITH those students, but I’m gladly serving in a behind the scenes coaching and mentoring role. We also have 2 young adults who are helping to lead these high school students.
It’s not an issue of you are too old to participate at all, it’s an issue of we’d love for students to lead students, but we KNOW that they need your input and guidance. I AM participating. Just not from stage. I think that is a subtle, but huge difference than churches telling older folks they are just not wanted anymore.
What are your thoughts?