Her Dying Discipled Me

Phil Letizia | February 11, 2017

Deep into the first year of planting a church, God sent us a gift. A 94-year-old woman named Nancy politely informed me she would now be calling our little start-up church her home. She was lovely and bright, carrying herself with a regality only matched by her kindness. She became an instant friend to many, and especially connected to our young adults.

Church planting is often thought of as an arena for the young—attracting creative, bold, and undiscovered leaders, but also the less established, less stable, and often immature. Young ministers don’t typically envision ministry to the elderly. Most of our creative energy is spent trying to attract the young—those like us, whom we feel we best relate to and reach. We come to believe the growth of the church only happens through reaching younger families, young adults, students, and children. Hence the reigning pressure so many ministers feel, both young and old, to constantly be “getting younger.”

This emphasis is found not only within the church, but within our medical communities as well. In his bestselling book Being Mortal, Atul Gawande—a surgeon and public health researcher—highlights the lack of interest in adult primary care and geriatrics shown by young…

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