In 1958, Charles Schulz, the creator of “Peanuts,” published a book compiled from cartoons he’d drawn for Youth magazine. “Harold” was the main character among several, who were involved in the life of a church somewhat typical of mainline white congregations in the Midwest in the late 1950s. Not surprisingly, the gentle humor people love in “Peanuts” also ran through this book, called Young Pillars.
I inherited a copy of Young Pillars from an older brother and kept it for many years. As times changed, the book carried a nostalgic tone for the heyday of church life, somewhat like reruns of old TV sit-coms. Then, in one of my many library purges, my copy of Young Pillars went to other hands. Used copies are still available. Wouldn’t it be something to order one and find my name in the front?
Like many churches, First Christian has its “old church pillars,” that is, those who keep pitching in, doing what needs to be done, doing what no one else will do, sometimes by default, yet always with a combination of duty and love. If you participate often enough to observe how things work, you’ll find it fairly easy to list a half dozen or more of these “ol’ pillars.” We all owe them much, and we still depend on their faithfulness.
Fortunately, it seems we have some not-so-old church pillars, too. Although the line between “old” and “not-so-old” isn’t clearly marked, we all know that circumstances will diminish what the “old pillars” can contribute as the years pass by. Some will move away to live near those who can keep an eye on them as they age. Others will find that their strength or stamina doesn’t permit them to do everything they’ve done in the past. Sadly, some will pass away. So, our not-so-old church pillars have to step up and assume a greater share of responsibility for the church’s mission.
How about “young pillars,” though? I’ve seen churches make the mistake of placing too much responsibility too soon on younger adults who show potential as leaders. Often, this results in early burn-out. However, we certainly need to develop the leadership potential of our young adults along with a strong sense of responsibility for supporting the mission of the church.
Whether you’re old, not-so-old, or young, I hope you understand that the church needs sturdy pillars with a good foundation to undergird our common efforts to reach toward our vision.
– Phil Miller