Church Production

Is There Ageism in Church Tech Arts?

Partnering young and old is key for any church tech team. That way, ministries get the benefit of high-energy and flexibility along with the invaluable ingredients of wisdom and maturity. Where does this foresight need to start? At the very top.

By Van Metschke
June 5, 2014 2:11 pm EST

Topics: Back Talk
Tags: team, tech, volunteers, worship,

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“Oddly, it’s the 50-something senior pastors who are presiding over this purging.”

I recently talked to a friend that had been let go from a church that seemed to be systematically replacing its “older” people, particularly in worship and tech, with younger ones. How old was he? Just 30. Whether or not age was a factor in my friend’s dismissal, stories like these are growing more common. This is alarming, especially as I consider the possible long-term effects that “ageism” could have in our churches. It turns out I’m not alone in my concerns. Here are some quotes from church techs affected by the issue of age.

The 20-something:

Young people are the easy go-to—they’re inexperienced and looking for direction, easily manipulated, and can be pushed to work longer than seasoned professionals. Older pros have more experience regarding what does and doesn’t work, as well as what boundaries are appropriate regarding what’s asked of them.

The biggest problem in this situation, from my experience, is a lack of maturity in younger creative staff. They don’t have enough experience to draw from to deal with the myriad of situations needing careful thought, prayer, and planning.

The 30-something:

I think it’s important to have a balance of young and old. There are things younger generations will either never learn, take too long to learn, or learn in a very hard or painful way. This could be bypassed if they could tap into the wisdom of those who have gone before. At the same time, older generations have to understand that their ways of doing things aren’t always the best. Sometimes their ways of doing things are particular to their generation and no longer apply.

The early-40-something:

The historical presence that our ‘older’ guys bring to the table is something that isn’t trivial--much effort, resources, time and hard work went into making them good at what they do. The problem comes when they’re treated like yesterday’s news. This can be a huge mistake, as we’re seeing in some other churches at the moment.

The mid-40-something:

Ageism really does exist in the church. I know many a worship leader and tech guy who has been let go when they get to 30, 40 or 50 (depending on the church). There seems to be a perception that only young, good-looking, hip people can be on-stage or mixing those on-stage. Oddly, it’s the 50-something senior pastors who are presiding over this purging. I am not giving a pass to those seasoned veterans who have become intractable curmudgeons, neither willing to change nor hand over responsibilities to the next generation. Quite the opposite: I’m a firm believer that the older generations need to be willing to step outside their comfort zone to reach the lost of all generations.

It is up to the leadership of the church to partner the younger people with the older ones. Leaders in the church should not be intimidated by those who are older, but should embrace their wisdom with humility.


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By buy viagra online | December 07, 2014

I'd been playing keys for worship teams almost nonstop since I was 16. I believe I've been consistently faithful, reliable, prepared, inclusive, excellent, and supportive of whatever leadership was there. I had been playing for our last church for 4 years when I turned 42. It began experiencing explosive growth adding numerous nearby campuses over a couple short years. They've added and continue to add several music directors to fill the expanding needs, and I found myself inexplicably disqualified for these types roles. They are all being filled with 20-somethings. Each of the new leaders are no less than wonderful individuals. I'm crushed to find that after 26 years of pouring myself into worship ministry as a volunteer, I'm disqualified for leadership. Not because God isn't calling or waiting or that the need isn't there, it's that I'm too old, or not a good enough hang to be considered. I can find no other explanation when looking at who they are tapping for these roles. I wouldn't have believed it before, but I'm pretty sure my church is ageist. And it's a well respected church nationwide - a model that others follow. I've had to step back from the team, it's really just too hurtful to remain involved. They keep calling too - wanting me to return. It's as if they value my experience and implicit leadership, but when it comes to staff leadership with real responsibilities..... youth trumps experience every time. I'm ashamed to admit this, but for the first time in my life I can't bring myself to return to church. My tithes are of course welcome, my volunteerism is welcome, my attendance is welcome, my [once] good attitude is welcome. But I'm keenly aware that I'm in a different class of people now - one that is not 'suitable' for leadership. Ouch. Won't be back.

By 43 and stunned | November 29, 2014

Bring on the Pauls, the Barnabases and the Timothies. I am in my mid 50s and I have to say amen to the 30 something in this article. Lets have a balance of young and old. When I was working church tech in my 20s some of my favorite people in the congregation were the 70 year old guys that put up with our loud music because they were there not to fulfill their need for a worship experience that matched their listening preference, but to build a sustainable church that would continue to reach out to the lost for generations to come. Those men came from a generation we called the "baby builders" that went through war years and the depression and were all about making things the best they could for their kids and their grand-kids. My "baby-boomer" generation has been way too self focused. It is time to stop taking and start giving so that all can come to know the Glory of God. I love seeing a church that has all ages filling the pews. Yes it is true that the older generations tend to be the ones with the financial means that help the church operate in the black, and the younger ones with less family obligations are able to commit more time. Lets capitalize on that. I still work tech. It is a gift that I thoroughly enjoy giving back. Put me along side a young Timothy so that I can share my experience. I still like going up in a Genie lift and swinging from the rafters but my knees do not recover from crawling around under the stage as fast as they used to. I could benefit with some young blood working alongside of me. I appreciate the input of some young ears too, although I still like a thumping kick and a solid bass line. If this article is true that church administrations are letting techs go simply because of their age then I am truly saddened. I hope there are other factors not mentioned. Sometimes it takes an old tech to to tell the young guy, "Go home and take care of your wife and kids. You've done enough today. We can get some others to help us tomorrow." That is what it is really all about. All of us working together to bring God the Glory.

By Darrel McKaig | October 21, 2014

Great topic to bring up Van. Balance is really key. Both young and older techs have things that are bennificial to ministry. I think there are negatives on both sides of the coin. Older techs can develope an un changing spirit that is steeped in " that's how we've always done it" mentality, while the younger tech can push for change just for the sake of change. Change is mandatory for ministry to remain effective. I believe embracing it is is good but there has to be forethought and vision in that change.

By Eric Kibbe | July 16, 2014

I actually went back in to delete my previous post. Seeing that I cannot do that, I'd like to clarify that it was not directed at Magnolia church in any way, as I have not attended there. I was speaking more in general terms of what I see happening with meg-churches as a whole.

By WorshipChange ComeSoon | July 15, 2014

I honestly don't care if Dennis the Menace is at the board, as long as the mix doesn't sound like a Carpenters album, compressed like Metallica's St. Anger record, and mixed like Iggy Pop record, then cranked to 100+db. At the end of the day, sound for worship still needs to be edifying. Right now in these times, worship does not need to emulate a live concert performance nearly as much as it needs to usher in the Holy Spirit. That is more than evident in our culture/news. And droning, painfully repetitive emo choruses of Jesus Culture, Hillsong United and Phil Wickam doesn't get there -- especially with the way current mixes are being utilized. What we all tend to forget is that the 45-70 yr olds heard The Who, Zeppelin and G'nR in concert, with bad live sound in those times. And with only half of their hearing left, if they're still alarming you that the mix is horrible and wayyyy too loud for a church experience, it's not because they're too old or conservative. Whoever is at the board, please, please, rethink a mid-tempo ballad compressed at 8:1, and amplified to utter ear bleed, with a Pink Floyd stoner visual experience on a Sunday morning. And yes, there is definite ageism in church. Older, very qualified and experienced people are being pushed out for younger inexperienced faces - but only really at the mega churches. The mega churches are overly concerned with marketing, in that if they don't reach the Millennials, that they won't keep their $100-million-per-year ships afloat. And they keep trying to stay hip, by pushing out the generation that payed for their campuses and sound systems to begin with. Frankly , if God uses this opportunity to 'reset' the attitudes of the mega churches, and more than a few go wayside in the process, I can't say that I blame Him. You can reach Millennials, but a congregation of Starbucks baristas won't be able to tithe nearly as much. Jus' sayin'. And statistically speaking, people in their 20s don't really attend church anyway. They're busy out kicking up their heels. They come back to church in their 30's after getting married and having kids. So the entire mega-church culture following the advice of only one or two mega-church trend analysts who say that 20s attendance has fallen off, is really kind of absurd anyway. But that's my soapbox & $.02. Van, I appreciate you raising the question and shedding some light on this subject.

By WorshipChange ComeSoon | July 15, 2014

Thank you for having the courage to breach this subject, Van. I imagine you'll hear from a few readers that echo your thoughts with their own stories of scenery change. Your piece was informational and compelling- Keep up the good work and Lord's blessings to ya!

By Keith Kankovsky | June 19, 2014


All entries for this blog:

  Is There Ageism in Church Tech Arts?

  Shooting Daggers

  Why ChurchTechArts?

  Right-Sizing the Ego: Serving as a Response to God

  Why We Do What We Do

  For the Greater Good

  Tapping Your Team’s Success Wiring

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