(Her.meneutics) Sarah Bessey–Are Older Women Being Sidelined in the Church?

…one theme emerged that I hadn’t expected: women in the middle of their lives who felt invisible and ignored by the church, the same way they feel invisible or ignored in our culture.

These are women of my mother’s generation, maybe 10 or even 20 years on either side. I heard their hurt, sorrow, and stoicism about life within the church. In a sea of artful hipsters and energetic young people with self-promotion apparently engrained into their DNA, they feel invisible and overlooked.

One woman told me about how she had led worship at her church for years. But when a new young pastor was hired, he wanted a cooler band to get more young people in the door. First thing to go? Older women. “No one wanted to see middle-aged women on stage,” she wrote candidly, and so she was replaced with young women in their late teens and early twenties.

Read it all.


Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, Parish Ministry, Women

9 comments on “(Her.meneutics) Sarah Bessey–Are Older Women Being Sidelined in the Church?

  1. sophy0075 says:

    Buried in the middle of the article is the reason why this author has encountered this sort of prejudice:
    [i]Other emails from women told me about how hard it is to be middle-aged–or to be considered unbeautiful–in a church culture that mirrors the values of pop culture.[/i]

    Churches that are biblically-based and Christ-centered hold values given to us by the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit. Those values treasure and value older women – and younger ones! And men! And children! And people of different colours and socio-economic backgrounds! Need I go on?

  2. David Keller says:

    Nice comment sohpy. This is a very odd article. I guess one must consider the source. I have been around the church all of my life and this article just doesn’t ring true. What I can say from 60 + years of experience is sometimes, when we want are own way, and not God’s way, we are called to introspection. The issue is are we comtemplating our navels, whining about what we want or are we trying to discern God’s will for us. I am, personally, still a work in progress, so I am not sure I could tell these ladies who feel so down trodden what the answer is. All I can say is, I have found great joy in starting ministries where my gifts are a fit. There is a huge difference between self pity and God’s revelation.

  3. Charles52 says:

    I, for one, don’t want to see anyone “on stage”. Anyway, there are lots of things to do in a congregation besides perform.

    There have been times in my life that I’d sung in choirs for more years than I had been alive, since I was sometimes in two or three groups at a time. But now I have the old man quiver in the voice, so I don’t sing in choir anymore (our choir, btw, is in the loft at the back, where it belongs). I don’t even sing much in the pews, From bad knees, I’m limited in kneeling and even standing sometimes. I’m old: what are you going to do. Like I said, there are other things to do. Prayer comes to mind. I think that’s the greatest ministry of the old in any case, but for the middle-aged, I’m thinking kids and younger folks need teaching. Is there a Stephen Ministry? A food bank? Visitation ministry of one kind or another?

  4. Frances Scott says:

    I am approaching my 50th year of teaching Adult Bible study; twice, for an extended time, by invitation of the pastor in denominations that “do not allow” women to teach men. Somehow, I’ve managed to have a fairly even male/female balance in my classes. Ah, Well. If God calls a woman to do the out of the ordinary, He provides a way. I’ve not felt marginalized, no have I felt particularly mains-treamed. My advice to Christians of any age would be: find something that needs doing and do it.

  5. Frances Scott says:


  6. Brian of Maryland says:

    Boomers annoyed they’re no longer young and the center of attention …

  7. Jeremy Bonner says:


    The “Preview” button is your friend; I wish Stand Firm still had it!

  8. paradoxymoron says:

    If only there was a church that was attractive to women in their 50’s or older, which promoted them to positions of leadership, which rewarded them for fulfilling their carnal desires with other women with bishoprics and salaried positions in schools of theology, where being male and hetero-normative would be greeted with hostility, where they could describe Jesus as a woman, substitute angular things like crosses with curvy things like labyrinths, and replace liturgy with paper-mache puppets. . . .

  9. Sarah1 says:

    RE: “and replace liturgy with paper-mache puppets. . . .”

    Hey [i]hey[/i] [b][i]hey[/i][/b]!

    I’m quite confident that the whole giant puppets thing — along with the clown “eucharists” and Dr. Seuss “eucharists” — were created by the mind of *man* not woman.

    And calling these men “feminized” will be the ultimate insult.

    As for the rest of your comment — that’s just [i]Really Really Really Mean.[/i]