Serving Our Elders
Nearly every Sunday, (and Christmas morning was no exception) our family worships and serves at a retirement community. My husband, Jon, is the chaplain and he is the pastor to this flock of people and our children and myself are a part of the community of faith. We have two services every Sunday morning – one contemporary and one traditional (Just kidding!). But seriously, we have two services because the 80 to 100 people who attend church each week can’t all fit into the room at the same time!
It has been a blessing to our family to be reminded that everyone, regardless of age, matters to God and is worthy of having the opportunity to worship Him and receive Biblical teaching. I’ve been humbled as I’ve helped some weeks to pass out the communion elements and need to place the cup in a shaking hand and help it to a person’s mouth. Christ came and died for all of us.
Several weeks ago, Christianity Today had a great piece on ministry with our elders and I encourage you to read the article in its entirety, but here are a few rather poignant quotes that we all need to consider.
“85 percent of nursing home residents never receive personal one-on-one visits”, according to Bill Goodrich, executive director of God Cares Ministry in Avon Lake, Ohio.”
“The church, for the most part, has ignored ministry to the elderly because there are no visible results or improvement.”
“To some degree you can tell the health of a church based on how they treat the weakest people,” says Life Center pastor Dean Curry. “You communicate a lot by incorporating the elderly into services, loving them, and letting them make a contribution.”
Don’t miss what he is saying. We communicate something when we DO or DO NOT include older adults in our services. We can do this by having them read Scripture, share the announcements or tell about one of their favorite hymns and what it means to them.
“God has a real passion for elderly people,” Hubbard says. “I’ve been on overseas missions trips, but I’ve never experienced such satisfying feelings as these.”
Perhaps in the new year, you may want to consider ramping up how you serve those who are homebound or in long-term care facilities. If you want some ideas, the Texas Baptist Association recently did a month long emphasis on the elderly. You can find some resources here, including a podcast I did with them on this topic.
In the meantime, what does your church do to minister with this growing age demographic?