Service to AND BY Older Adults
The Scriptures are full of examples of God using unlikely people for His purposes. Abram was seventy-five when the Lord called him to leave his country and settle in Canaan, while Samuel was just a young boy when the Lord called him to be a prophet. In other words, God does not limit Himself by age when it comes to what He can accomplish through the gifts and service of His holy people.
At my recent class reunion, a pastor from Florida said that it is difficult to involve those who have retired and move down to their community because their response is “I have already done my time.” However, there is no such thing as “doing our time” for God. St. Paul calls Christians to offer their bodies as living sacrifices as this is part of our spiritual worship. That does not mean that becoming a Sunday School teacher is a “life sentence,” but it means that throughout our days we live out our vocations as children of God by serving Christ and His Church with the gifts that we have received from God. Our service may change over time, but not the One who we serve. I often think of a Lutheran school teacher, who in retirement shifted her service from children to older adults, but never stopped her serving.
Our congregations are full of older adults with gifts and talents that they joyfully share in service each and every day. My prayer is that our congregations would be what St. Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 12, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” We hope that our congregations are truly functioning as the Body of Christ and each part is doing its work for Christ’s sake.
This issue of The VOICE focuses on older adults, but it should not be seen as only the Church’s service to older adults, but also how older adults are busy serving the Church, their communities and their Savior. Sometimes we acknowledge that our congregations have large numbers of older adults almost apologetically. The reality is that the older adults of our congregations are blessings from God. We know pray that God would use older adults to mentor and build up the younger generations to follow in their example of faith and serve with joy in Christ’s Church.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan
Rev. Dr. R. Lee Hagan was elected as the fifth president of the Missouri District-LCMS in 2015. He is a 1992 graduate of Concordia College (now University), Seward, Nebraska. He graduated from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis with a Master of Divinity in 1996 and Doctor of Ministry in 2011. Dr. Hagan served as associate pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Evansville, Indiana from 1996-2002. In 2002, he was called to serve as senior pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Concordia, Missouri until he was elected district president. Additionally, he served as the Interim Director of LCMS Rural and Small Town Mission from 2011-2012. He has previously served as Missouri District first vice-president from 2012-2015, fourth vice-president from 2011-2012, and chairman of the Board for Congregational Services from 2006-2011. He has presented workshops and retreats on a host of ministry topics including elders, rural ministry, outreach and ministry to inactives. He has written articles for Lutheran Witness, Concordia Historical Quarterly and Missio Apostolica. He has led mission trips to Cambodia, China, Guatemala and the Bahamas. Dr. Hagan is married to Jill (nee Johnson), who works as a speech-language pathologist. They have two children, Caroline and Jack.