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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,

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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