Saturday Night Live has been on the air since I was a child. The "Not-Ready-For-Primetime-Players" have historically been made up of young guys and gals who are considered talented, up and comers in the comedy scene. In smaller venues, such as on Second City TV, they have shown great potential, and so the producers at NBC try to snatch them up in their formative years in order to ride the wave of popularity created by the comedians as they come into their own. By doing so, SNL secures the next generation of viewers and is a perennial source of talent for Hollywood and television programmers.
I'd like to shift for just a moment to some parallel observations of the contemporary church. When a youth pastor or a teen who has served perhaps on short term missions several times shows great promise, church leaders often set them up with more responsibility and perhaps education and training in hope that as they rise to the occasion, that energy will transfer into church growth. The new, innovative things that these young people bring to churches is very exciting and necessary for the development of the next generation of church goers and serves as a great future pulpit feeding source.
Now, let's consider Betty White's premiere as SNL host this past Saturday. SNL producers were highly resistant to the idea of inviting an 88-year old woman, who hasn't been in anything since who knows when, to host for their show. Enter social media such as facebook and twitter. The very media that the young, up and comers have created and popularized with such innovation and enthusiasm, was the primary vehicle that enabled SNL viewers (who are made up of wide, wide range of demographics) to voice their contrary opinions about inviting Betty White to participate in the SNL cast.
Do you see the irony? And the relevance to the church?
It is way too easy to think that our perceived need for the new, novel, young and innovative in order to preserve the legacy of future generations is mutually exclusive from those generations that have gone before. In reality, if it weren't for the Betty Whites in our congregation, most of the "Not-Ready-For-Primetime-Players" wouldn't even have a venue to cut their teeth or a hope at rising to greatness as they mature. Afterall, the Betty Whites are the ones who raised these young and restless performers and their constitutients. Not only do we owe a great deal to them, but they've been through or have seen everything these youngin's are just attempting for their first time.
We need Betty Whites. Let's not make the same mistake as the myopic SNL producers. Let's honor one another, regardless of age and style or any other irrelevant differentiator. Otherwise, I might just have start another Facebook group. And nobody wants that, right?
(updated end note: I did not watch Betty White on SNL and have no idea whether she was funny or not, so don't take this as any type of endorsement. I've heard that some of the jokes were very offensive, so I wouldn't recommend watching it.)