Revamping Seniors Ministry

February 10, 2006 by

Changes in ministries to seniors are coming fast, especially as senior citizens aren’t thinking of themselves as seniors. Last week we heard about teaching seniors how to play Xbox, but there’s always more. An article in the Shreveport Times talks about the new ways seniors are being involved in congregations, often depending on whether they’re healthy and active, active but having health problems, or ailing.

A few examples include:

  • Simply praying. At my old church the Wednesday night prayer meeting existed thanks to the seniors who consistently showed up.
  • Pairing seniors with younger members of the church as mentors. As a third grader I remember being paired up with a cool old guy in the church. I was too young for it to be a real mentoring relationship, but it did have a big impact on me.
  • A prayer shawl ministry where handmade items are given to those diagnosed with serious illnesses.
  • Baking ministries. The afternoon after visiting my current church for the first time this smiling old guy showed up at my door with a fresh-baked loaf of bread. Right on!
  • Intergenerational activities, like bringing seniors into the children’s program to read books. Personally I love the intergenerational model–grandparents can make some of the best youth group volunteers.

I think the church has always done a good job at valuing the older and wiser members in our midst. But that becomes harder and harder both as churches begin to target younger demographics and the business world sees dollar signs when they look at retiring baby boomers.

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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3 Responses to “Revamping Seniors Ministry”

  • Joseph S.
    February 23, 2006

    At our church our 60’s+ / Retired ministry stuffs the bulletins for the weekend and folds them. They love to come in and help out. They chat it up with each other and everyone on staff.
    Despite our purchase of a folding machine 3 years ago, they have continued to insist on faithfully serving in this ministry.
    pretty cool.

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  • Fay
    September 14, 2006

    Often, the elderly members of a congregation are those who have stuck with the church through some lean years. When a church experiences a significant amount of growth, we sometimes subtly communicate that they are no longer relevant. Here are some things to consider:
    Make sure you keep your written material readable for all ages. While a smaller font may seem artistically cool, bulletin and website creators are being insensitive to the over-50 crowd (or even younger folks with visual impairment) when they use very small fonts or low-contrast colors.
    While some seniors enjoy stuffing the bulletins every week, don’t assume that’s all their good for. Many of today’s seniors are diving into the Internet, developing creative talents and have a lot of valuable skills they’ll invest somewhere else if you don’t recognized and engage them.
    When you change the culture of your church, understand that some changes are very difficult to accept. As immigrants from West Africa began attending our church, the pastor encouraged their participation in worship. They began to serve as worship leaders, substitute preachers and even formed an acapella choir (that rocked!).
    This was a big change for the “old-timers.” While they were happy that the church was growing, they were not so happy when African accents made speakers difficult to understand or when the spirited African choir extended the length of the service (or became more popular than their small traditional choir).
    While there is still some grumbling, my pastor has done a great job of understanding the issues and communicating with the disgruntled—while still pressing forward. He’s also been willing to recognize when a change is just a bit too far out of the box. (If you can’t understand what the preacher is saying, that’s a significant problem.)
    You can’t win them all, but sensitivity, respect and communication go a long way.

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  • Lisa
    December 18, 2010

    I am very involved with seniors….I have started bible reading in 10 retirement homes with 9 other volunteers from our church. There is a great need for this type of ministry..people want to hear and learn about Jesus.

    I enjoyed your web site.


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