What would it take for your church to get involved in ministry to seniors?
Mary lives in an apartment all by herself. A film crew decided to follow her day and what she shared about 3 and a half minutes in crushed it.
While the story of the video is with a senior center, the message is the same.
Can your church do something that could bring joy and Jesus to the life of Mary and the hundreds like her around your church?
When my 90+ year old grandma was told old to leave her house, a church member near her would call on her, check in with her, and just be a presence at her house. He came to her funeral and was the only non-family member there.
I can’t call or any of my grandmothers anymore as they have all gone to be with the Lord. After watching this video I found myself thinking about their final years alone. I was too far away to do anything about it.
Don’t let your church become “Senior Insensitive,” but find ways to engage and demonstrate the love of Christ.
Start a Senior Adult Ministry
Win Arn shared some thoughts on how to start a senior adult ministry:
If you were to develop an age-sensitive adult ministry, how would you begin? Here are five components:
1. Find, select, and train leaders. The success of your adult ministry will be directly related to the quality of your leaders. Some one needs to own the goal of ministry/ outreach to young, middle, and senior adults. The leaders who will be most successful in each group will have a genuine love for people in that group. It’s not a job; it’s a ministry.
Our research with 500 churches that had full- or part-time senior adult staff members showed that the leaders who had specific training in this area were far more effective and their adult ministries were more likely to be growing than were lead ers who had received no training. We also found that retired pastors are generally in effective as middle and senior adult leaders unless they had been retrained in the unique issues and challenges of senior adult ministry.
2. Get the facts. Here is a proven principle: “Abundant, accurate information, properly interpreted and applied, enables churches to be good stewards of the grace of God and effective communicators of the gospel of Christ.”
Find out how many members in your church are over age 50,55,60,65. What are the age groupings in your community? How many are homebound? What percentage are males, females? What are the various needs and interests represented in your prospective constituency? Your findings will lead you to organize effective programs and activities.
3. Begin with an adult ministry, not a senior adult group. The distinction is important. If you have a “senior adult group,” you limit the potential involvement to those individuals who see themselves as “senior adults.” Many other senior adults in your congregation and in your community will not identify with “those old people.” In contrast, if your paradigm is an adult ministry, all kinds of groups can develop, many of which would not even be identified as “senior adult.” A church of 300 members could have 10 to 15 various adult groups responding to a variety of needs and touching the lives of many more people.
4. Develop a purpose statement. A dearly written purpose statement will be the guiding light for a successful older adult ministry. This purpose statement should be “owned” by the members and be a yardstick to measure regularly the progress. If a clear purpose statement is not established and used early in the ministry, the activities will become increasingly self-serving and self-centered.
Here is one purpose statement developed by an age-sensitive adult ministry. Use or adapt it if it describes the purpose you desire for your adult ministry. If not, create your own.
The adult ministry of ______ church has as its purpose to communicate and share God’s love to those in the church family and to those outside the church. The assumption behind the adult ministry, the groups, and the activities sponsored by this ministry is that they exist for the purpose of serving, not being served; of giving, not receiving.
5. Build your adult ministry on adult motivators. Marketing researchers have sought to identify the reasons today’s older adults buy or don’t buy certain products.
Their findings are of value to church leaders seeking to reach this group. According to these studies, older adults are motivated by one of the five values that form the foundation of most of their meaningful activity:
- Autonomy—they desire to be or re main self-sufficient.
- Social and spiritual connectedness—they respond to people more than programs.
- Altruism—they desire to give some thing back to the world.
- Personal growth—they desire to continue developing as human beings.
- Revitalization—they respond to activities that bring fresh and new experiences.
The United Methodist Blog shared an article “Keeping Older Adults Connected,” published in Interpreter Magazine, June 2014. There are some good stories and ideas in there.
Coaching Corner – the One Thing
How could your church reach out to Mary?