One thing is certain; change happens. When change happens in a church, it usually motivates an exodus of some members. Church change also entices new folks to come check out what’s happening. Unfortunately, certain types of change almost always result in the exodus of older folks from the congregation. Learn what issues are likely to dislodge older church members and lead them right out the church door.
Church Change in Worship Style
Several of the changes that dislodge older church members have to do with church worship. Older folks are comfortable with the great hymns of the church and scriptural choruses learned over the past few decades. But these same folks may not be as comfortable in worship that includes none of the hymns or choruses that are familiar to them.
Church Change in Worship Requirements
Some worship leaders invite the congregation to stand throughout the entire worship service, and some worship services last between half an hour to an hour in length. Many older or disabled members can’t handle that much time standing, and resentment usually happens.
Church Change in Worship Volume
But worship volume–probably more than song choice or standing issues–has the capacity to drive folks out of a church faster than many other church changes. If the music’s too loud that it hurts, it’s loud enough to drive more than the older folks out the church door. It’s vital that worship volume be addressed–and addressed by those who have not deafened their own hearing. Ear plugs should not be a requirement for attending church services, and believe it or not, they are worn more often than need be.
Church Change in Sanctuary Temperature
Temperature in the sanctuary is an issue that impacts physical comfort levels. Older folks get chilled more easily. When air conditioning is set too high or the thermometer is set too low to save money, the ones who feel the temperature the most are usually the older folks. If coming to church means shivering through the service, some older folks may think it time to change churches or time to stay home.
Church Change in Pastoral Style
A pastoral change can dislodge more than the older folks from a church. Some issues that cause pastoral dissatisfaction by older folks are these: pastor is too young, pastor doesn’t care about elderly concerns and issues, pastor uses too many um’s, pastor preaches about the same things all the time, pastor’s kids are unruly, and pastor is too long-winded. But most importantly, if the pastor seems insensitive to the needs of older folks in the church, the older folks may go in search of a pastor who seems more sensitive.
Church Change Less Tolerated
Older folks can be fairly forgiving, having spent years under the leadership of a variety of pastors. But there are certain changes that are less tolerated and will likely dislodge several senior members of the church. These include changes that cause physical discomfort–like music volume too loud, standing too long for worship, and sanctuary temperature too warm or too cold.
Church Change and Balance
Churches that respect the concerns of older folks in the congregation, keep their older members. A well-balanced congregation is one that covers the entire age spectrum–from young to old. Furthermore, it behooves a church to remember where financial support often originates. Some of the biggest givers are those with means, and those with means are often senior in age.
Church change doesn’t have to dislodge the senior members. If church leadership is sensitive to the needs and concerns of older church members, the well-served older members will continue being a blessing to the church.