The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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Say No to Ageism

The UK is completely and institutionally ageist’. These are the words of Professor Martin Green, Chief Executive of Care England, the largest representative body for independent social care services in the UK.

Green laments the way the young are disenfranchising the old. But the problem of ageism isn’t just that older people lose out; everyone does. Allow me to introduce you to James.

James had spent the bulk of his working life as a university careers adviser. By asking the right questions, he’d helped hundreds of students discover how their gifts, skills, and desires connected with the world of work. Then, aged 79, he found himself asking God his own vocational question: ‘Father, at this stage of my life, how can I steward my time and my gifts well?’

Not long after praying this, James was strolling around town when he noticed a sign in his local library: ‘Vacancy: Volunteer Computer Buddy’. James had always been a bit of a techie – setting up computer networks for his kids, writing software for the university department. He applied. Within a few weeks, he was helping people print off plane tickets and log onto their Universal Credit accounts. Word of his computer wizardry went viral, and it wasn’t long before James was running sessions in other places too.

He remembers the morning Stuart came into the library, clutching a brand-new silver netbook. ‘My niece bought me this, but I have no idea how to use it.’ Once James had introduced Stuart to the joys of Gmail and Facebook, Stuart got himself a smartphone. But he wasn’t sure how to use that either. After a few sessions with James, though, he could WhatsApp like a pro.

Some months later Stuart was diagnosed with aggressive cancer. Through this most difficult time, the skills he’s learnt from James are helping him keep in touch with friends and family. And the friendship he’s developed with James is helping him navigate this season of life. Through all this, James is ministering grace and love. He is making good work.

You see, we should all be asking ourselves – and others – questions of vocation at every stage of life. How can I use my God-given gifts, talents, desires, time, and opportunities for the good of my neighbour, to the glory of God? And how am I doing this already? How we answer these questions changes everything.


Joe Warton
Church Team – Research and Development, LICC

This is the first in a six-part series featuring real-life stories of God’s people living fruitfully in today’s world. Names are sometimes changed to preserve anonymity.


  1. Always such great and inspiring reading – thank you so much

    By Ann Blackmore  -  24 Jan 2020
  2. Re ageism do have a look at” Finishing our course with joy” by J.I.Packer (IVP)
    On p63 he writes….
    “Taking their cue from the world around, modern Western churches organize occupations,trips,parties and so forth for their seniors……….but they no longer look to these folk as they do to the rest of the congregation to find,feed, and use their spiritual gifts. In this they behave as though spiritual gifts and ministry skills wither with age. But they don’t; what happens, rather, is that they atrophy with disuse.”

    By John Hattam  -  24 Jan 2020
  3. Great, will look forward to receiving them

    By David Thumwood  -  24 Jan 2020
  4. Good to recognise that work / calling is not just what younger adults have, in workplaces. It’s lifelong and includes things that aren’t necessarily recognised as skills.

    By Joanna Walker  -  24 Jan 2020
  5. In agree that we in the UK are institutionally ageist. I am 72 and I have been retired for 10 years and partially retired before that for a few years. I think I am less, not more, rigid in my thinking than I was in my earlier years, although I do recognise rigidity of thought and attitudes in some people of my age group. No doubt some of that is physical; some people’s attitudes are as hard as their arteries! I am a retired GP and I still try to keep up to date generally although it is impossible to keep up to date over the vast area of my subject. I read and watch the news and my reading is wider than when I was consumed with work. My wife and I do crosswords to keep my brain active. My health is not good. I have had a treatable but not curable blood cancer but I am fairly well. My Christian faith sustains me.

    By James (Jim) McAulay  -  25 Jan 2020

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