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older adults

Crossing the Generational Divide

Each generation has preconceived ideas and attitudes toward other generations. “Those older people just don’t understand.” “Young people today have no respect.” “Older adults are stuck in their ways.” “Young adults are lazy.” And you can add all of you own statements and the ones you’ve heard people say.

The problem is, these attitudes prevent us from really connecting with one another and more importantly, they prevent us from looking beyond the surface and seeing the real person. The hardships. The struggles. The joys. Read more

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Binge Drinking and Adults 65+

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently put out a report on binge drinking. Noted in the report is that the age group that binge drinks the most often is the 65+ age group.

This should cause us to stop and consider a couple of things: Read more

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July 20, 20116 years ago

A Powerful Equation

TIME + EXPERIENCE + RESOURCES = SIGNIFICANT KINGDOM IMPACT

Something incredible is happening across the country.  Never before in history have so many people lived into the later years of life with so much health and vitality.  In fact, by the year 2030, nearly a quarter of our population will be 65+ in age.  This is a huge group of people with the ability to make a powerful impact for Christ.  Just consider what they have to offer: Read more

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Different Generations and Different Needs means Different Ministries

Last Thursday I wrote about one church’s attempt to recruit people over 50 into the current senior adult ministry. The week after this church listed the qualifications for being a senior, they wrote about various activities and programs of the senior adult ministry. Here are several of them that were listed in the church bulletin: Read more

Two Ways to Create a New Perspective of Aging

My guess is that a number of you have seen this picture before. If you look at it one way you see a beautiful, young woman…if you look at it in a different way you see the face of an old woman. (Hint: The chin of the young woman is the nose of the old woman).

It’s interesting how our view – our perspective – can have such an effect on how we approach something. For many people, aging has been seen as something negative and something to avoid. It is time we work to create a new perspective.

Here are two suggestions of how you can begin to do this in your church.

1. Draw attention to the contribution of older adults.

This woman is in her late 70s and volunteers her time with the tech ministry at her church. She does not fit the unfortunately common stereotype of an older person complaining about the music or powerpoint slides or lights. Rather, she is giving of her time and abilities to serve people in the local church. In fact, she runs the light program! We need to tell her story and the hundreds of other stories of older men and women just like her. Write about them on your church blog. Share their story from the platform on a Sunday morning. Create a video of older adults serving in various capacities. You get the idea. Start doing something to communicate that older adults are valuable and capable of making a difference.

2. Teach about the lives of older adults in Scripture. One of my favorite examples is of Caleb in Joshua chapter 14. After years and years the Israelites are finally coming into the Promised Land. In verse 6 we come upon Caleb who recalls the promise God had made to him 45 years before to give him the land of Hebron and then in verse 10, Caleb says: “…So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me this hill country the Lord promised me that day.”

Here is a guy who did not approach aging as something negative, rather he fully embraced this stage of life and all that God had for him. Young people and old people in our churches and communities need to hear these stories, so they know that this can be a reality for them.

What are you doing to help create a new perspective of aging in your ministry context?

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Outwardly Focused Older Adult Ministries

One of the primary components of an effective older adult ministry is having a strong emphasis on service, but creating this atmosphere, where service is an expected and normal thing, does not automatically happen. Some churches have neglected to see their older adults as valuable resources full of life experience and wisdom and instead they have bought into the world’s lie that once someone reaches a particular age they should “slow down” and “let the younger people take over.” It takes effort and in some cases a shift in attitude to build an outwardly focused older adult ministry.

Shortly after Peninsula Covenant Church, in Redwood City, CA began their Plus ministry, Dr. Alan Forsman, one of the strategic planners for Pepsi, talked to the church about the characteristics of the 50+ generation. Rod Toews, pastor of Plus ministry says, “This particular presentation to our church helped to raise the awareness that the church had really not been doing a good job of valuing the 50+ members. Our older members were feeling disenfranchised and like the church did not really care about them. The first goal of our ministry was to help the older adults feel valued and worthwhile and in doing this we realized that our people had the time and the abilities to be involved in missional things.” The Plus ministry began blessing the community by praying for the lost in the city, being involved in community service clubs and taking the elderly to doctor’s appointments. It did not take long until the Plus ministry was recognized by the entire church as being a ministry with an outward focus. In fact, other ministries in the church began to look to them for support and help in various service endeavors.

Mopsy Andrews, pastor of BOLDer adult ministry (Being Our Lord’s Delight) at Chapelwood United Methodist Church in Houston, TX is also very intentional about making sure the 50+ ministry is focused on serving. “One of the primary goals of our senior pastor when he first came to Chapelwood was to change the landscape of our church to be outreach oriented. Chapelwood is in an affluent suburb of Houston, and he wanted us to change the image of our church from being inwardly focused to a place where all kinds of people could find love and acceptance.” The older adult ministry embraced this emphasis, and in fact one of the primary purposes of the BOLDer Adult ministry is to supply the people for the many service projects organized by the church. BOLDer adults at Chapelwood now serve in a variety of capacities from short-term mission trips, to encouraging people looking for employment, to providing transportation to nursing home residents. Mopsy says, “Our church now has over 300 mission and outreach ministries and over 1,200 BOLDer adults are involved in supporting these ministries.”

What churches do you know of that have intentionally outward focused older adult ministries?

(This blog post was adapted from a portion on my concept paper, “Creating New Opportunities for Older Adults to Serve”).

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Worship and Older Adults (Do you really want to go there?)

You can’t be as immersed in older adult ministry as I am and not be faced from time to time with the worship issue. You know what I’m talking about – contemporary , traditional…loud, soft…etc.

In trying to deal with this issue, many leaders jump to the conclusion that they need to start a more traditional service for their older adults – one where hymns will be sung and the preacher won’t wear jeans. But offering this service may just be a band aid. Before starting a new service or doing a blended service or sending your older adults out the door to find a different church, I believe all leaders need to wrestle with these questions:

1. Are the older adults fully engaged in the mission of the church?
2. Are they an integral part of what is happening in ministry in terms of outreach and service to the community?
3. Is there clear communication that the church wants to grow and reach all age groups of people, or is there a very direct focus on reaching the younger set?
 

These are the real questions that must be considered and answered in an honest manner. It’s a question of VALUE. Are you starting a traditional or classic service simply to pacify the older folks so that you can go on and do the stuff you really want to do? Or, are you starting a service because you truly want to reach out to unchurched older adults as well as minister in an intentional way to those who are already believers?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

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Planting New Churches for the New Old

“All my life, I’ve known something was missing, and now I know what it was.” These were the words of Bob, a man who at the age of 80 found his way back to God and named Christ as the Lord of his life. Bob became a Christ follower while living in Carillon, a 55+ living community located in Plainfield, IL. Nearly 6 years ago, Community Christian Church, a multi-site campus based church in Naperville, IL, saw the ministry opportunities within Carillon and started weekly church services in the community’s clubhouse. Since then they have seen many older adults come into a relationship with Christ.

There are nearly 78 million baby boomers in their fifties and sixties, not to mention the millions of adults currently over the age of 65. In fact, in 20 years, nearly a quarter of our population will be over the age of 65 and millions of these adults do not have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, a new and untapped area for church planters is the 50+ population.

There are a variety of approaches worth considering in regards to church plants for older adults.

1.  Consider a church plant inside a 55+ living communities. Some communities, like Carillon do not have any formal church structures within their community. Community Christian’s Carillon campus holds their church services in the community clubhouse. There is also a strong emphasis on small groups. Non-Christians living in Carillon are invited to join a small group and over time relationships are built and conversations about faith and God occur.

Community Christian currently has plans to launch a new campus in another 55+ living community –Del Webb Huntley – where over 9600 people will live.  Perry (62) (the pastor) and his wife Becky (59) are moving into the community and will begin forming relationships and establishing small groups with the first church service to be held in March of 2011.

In both of these examples, the pastors moved into the communities and are forging relationships with the people while living next door, so to speak. The church leaders play golf with the residents, participate in other activities on the campus and even serve on the Association board.

2.  A second way to plant a church is to look at the demographics of a certain region and determine if they have a high percentage of adults who are in the 50+ age category, then start a church to reach this group.

3. Another way to reach this population group is by creating a new church service, perhaps on a Saturday night, to reach unchurched older adults. One caution with this approach is to be sure you are not creating a new service just to pacify those current church-goers who are upset about the contemporary worship style or the loud music. Your focus must be on the unchurched 50+ age adults.

In an era when many church leaders are focused on reaching the younger generation, the need for focused evangelism efforts toward the 50+ generation is imperative.

What churches do you know of that are intentionally targeting the new old?

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If Not Now, Then When?

This week I read a great article regarding the ministry of YES! (Young Enough to Serve). This article tells the story of Frances, a 75-year old woman who is singing in a Mobile Home Choir, doing senior outreach work for her church and has just begun work on a Master’s degree in psychology and counseling. Her story reminds me of something I heard the late Dr. Gene Cohen (a leader in the field of aging) say in a presentation. He said as we get older we develop more of an attitude that says: “If not now, then when?” Stereotypes say that older adults are cautious, but many 50+ age adults are plunging into new adventures – things they have never done before. Things like going on an overseas mission trip, mentoring a disadvantaged teenager or going back to college! Anything is possible!

How have you seen older adults display an attitude of “If not now, then when?”

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