“You’ve preached, but the response was mixed. The young were excited and enthused, but the old fell asleep. Or perhaps the old were rejuvenated, but the young were checking their texts and emails. And that seems to happen most Sundays. Why?
In some ways the “odds” are stacked against the preacher. Schools have separate classes for different age groups so that age-appropriate lessons can be taught in the most efficient manner. Preachers don’t have that luxury. We have to to preach one message to one audience ranging across the entire age-spectrum.
We might connect better if we better understood the Five ages of the brain. This New Scientist article contains some amazing facts:
- During the prenatal period, up to a quarter of a million new cells form every minute
- By the time we are born we have 100 billion brain cells
- We start learning in the womb at around 22-24 weeks
- By age 6, the brain is 95 per cent of its adult weight
- The peak of your brain’s power is around age 22 and lasts for just 5 years
- At age 27 our processing speed begins to slow down, but our “wisdom” keeps growing with our waistline
- Good diet, exercise and sleep can slow down mental decline
However, the main takeaway for the preacher is how the article highlights the different way we are “wired” at these different stages of life:
- Gestation: Setting the stage
- Childhood: Soak it up
- Adolescence: Wired and rewiring
- Adulthood: The slippery slope
- Old Age: Down but not out
Normally, preachers will connect best with their own age group, because they process information in similar ways. However, if we desire to connect with younger or older hearers, we may have to consciously adjust our preaching to maximize our usefulness. Some questions to get you started:
- Is my preaching reaching all ages? Or is there an age group I am regularly switching off?
- What preacher is successfully connecting with the young/middle-aged/old? What can I learn from him?
- Should I have some sermons that are tailored to a specific age group? Or can I, in one sermon, find ways to get the same truth to different age groups?
- If a sermon was especially appreciated by one age group, what did I do differently?
- Who is sufficient for these things?
Our sufficiency is of God (2 Cor. 3:5).