On trend and Older Adult friendly are not two terms you often hear together. A trend that has been taking place for a number of years in churches. Denomination, geographic boundaries, socio-economic status, race, etc. make little or no difference in this trend. What is it? It is the drive to bring in young families and youth. We are called to make disciples of Jesus Christ. We are to reach out to young families and youth. No doubt about it! But are we forgetting someone along the way? We contend the answer is yes.
There is no doubt that all churches, since we are called to make disciples of Jesus Christ, we are to reach out to young families and youth. No doubt about it! But are we forgetting someone along the way? We contend the answer is yes.
Older adults make up a large percentage of people in the pews each week. According to Pew Research Center, 55% of Mainline Protestant congregations are composed of people over 50% (29% between 50 and 64 and 26% 65+). Evangelical Protestant churches are 49% over 50 (20% from 50-64 and 29% are 65+).
Even more astounding, Older Adults will outnumber those under 18 by 2030. The percentage gap between the two age groups will continue to grow.
These statistics do not dismiss the importance of Youth Ministry. We have a responsibility to nurture all people in the love of Christ. Out goal is to point the need for an additional focus on Older Adults in our congregations and our communities.
Survey Your Older Adults? Yes, and the rest of your congregation also!
To best serve our congregations, we need to know our congregations. Knowing the members of a congregation includes knowing their needs, their talents, their gifts, their concerns, their joys, and so much more. When it comes to serving Older Adults, I believe we have, not only a responsibility, but a great opportunity to learn from amazing children of God who have a lifetime of experience and wisdom to share. This learning enriches all of us while we seek to serve them. Talk about a win-win scenario!
Older Adults are often referred to as pillars of the church. They have supported, attended, built, educated, mourned with, and celebrated within their faith family for decades. We are called to minister not just to them, but with them, and for them. There are countless ways these ministries can come to life. To learn the best ways to do all this, we simply need to ask.
We have constructed a survey that should take about 10 minutes that can help you evaluate the needs and gifts of your members. We suggest sharing this survey with the entire congregation, old and young alike. This survey asks for what is needed as well as who is able to provide the service. Matching the needs to the talents can forge new relationships in your congregation. In turn those relationships may strengthen the body. As I said earlier: win-win!!!
How do you Survey Your Older Adults?
It is really quite simple. I promise. Yes, you will be collecting a lot of data. If you would like Winter Grace is happy to analyze your data for you. Just contact us and ask us how. Please download our survey. Perhaps start by giving it to a small sampling of your congregation. Or jump right in and offer it to the entire congregation. The answers may surprise you.
Engage, Nurture, & Disciple are three main goals of any ministry. Or at least they should be. We need to keep the main thing the main thing and the main things is to make disciple for Jesus Christ. Engaging members in the life of the church, nurturing them through the care of brothers and sisters in Christ, and helping them grow as disciples are three key ingredients for any age member. Older Adults are no exception.
1. Celebrate Older Adult Recognition Sunday
On this Sunday, congregations acknowledge aging is a natural progression and each stage of life is full of unique potential. There are several verses of Scripture that show the honor of age and the respect of others due those who are aged. Spending time in worship acknowledging Older Adults can be among the most profound ways to acknowledge the value of these children of God.
2 Educate Older Adults regarding Volunteer Opportunities in the Community
Older Adults have gifts, talents, experience, and wisdom to share! Churches can serve their Older Adults by empowering them through community involvement. By sharing the wide variety of opportunities to volunteer in the community, churches are giving the gift of value and respect to Older Adults, these experienced and important people who have much to contribute to their communities.