How to Get New People to Check Out Your 50+ Ministry
I was cleaning out some files the other day and came across one file all about an event that I led for older adults when I was the 50+ ministry director at Central Christian Church in Las Vegas. The event was called the “Remember When Reception” and it reminded me of an important idea that might help those of us who lead older adult ministries. Here is the question for us to consider:
How might we use the momentum of an all-church big event or service to help propel our ministries with older adults forward?
In my example, the church was doing a huge Christmas program called, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” which was going to feature Big Band music and drama set in the 1940s around the time of World War II. The program was presented 5 times with over 5,000 people attending. I was leading a brand new ministry with active adults and saw this as an opportunity to gather a crowd of people that I would have no chance for reaching otherwise. So, I piggybacked on one of the performances and planned a fun ‘after party’ for all those who were alive in the 1940’s.
I enlisted a team of leaders and we got busy several months before the event planning a party that would be filled with memorabilia, stories, photos, music, door prizes, areas for conversation, and refreshments. The event was a huge success – we sold out of tickets and the room was filled beyond capacity.
Making it Work
1. Older adults were already planning to come to this particular Christmas program with fantastic music and a great message. They were already going to be there for this, whether or not I had an after party or not. So, I had a captive audience.
2. It was clearly communicated on every bit of printed material that there was a special reception following one particular performance.
3. In addition to this clear communication, people were invited ONLY if they were alive in the 1940s. This helped people feel special and wanted and valued. They were being singled out in a good way.
4. I utilized lots of lay-leaders and volunteers who put their energy and creativity into planning the reception.
5. The names and contact information of people who attended was gathered so that I now had a list in which to begin to grow our older adult ministry.
6. We made sure the reception was done with excellence and that it exceeded people’s expectations so that any negative or wrong stereotypes about older adult ministry were dispelled.
Of course, you could do something like this with just about anything – it doesn’t have to be a church-wide Christmas program. For example, does your church already have a strong Sunday school system in place with several boomer-age classes? One church planned a special Sunday where all 5 of the boomer age classes were gathered together (a total of about 200 people) and invited me to be the guest speaker on that particular day. They used this to introduce the idea of a boomer ministry with their ultimate goal being to launch a church-wide boomer ministry.
Have you ever tried piggy-backing on something else at your church to help expose more people to your older adult ministry? What did you do? How did it work? How was it received?