In the last few months I have visited several older adult church groups in order to find out where they are in ministry opportunities. There are several things that were revealed as I approached these church groups.
One of the issues that surfaced, in more than one situation, is the absence of older adult leaders.
Most leaders are over burdened with other church positions and few churches have full time or even bi-vocational older adult pastors. Yet, by 2010 older adults (50+) will comprise 40% of church congregations. In addition, unchurched older adults are one of the largest groups in our population.
What is the answer?
Before you answer, "oh well" perhaps the following materials may help those who feel led to lead older adults who are looking to find significance in the second half of their lives.
My aim is to help that someone who feels "led to lead" receive God inspired help as I did. After all, it is the Holy Spirit that leads; it is not about us.
Let us look at what it takes to lead older adults (50+) whether you are a lay leader or a pastor that leads older adults.
Older Adult Ministry:
Church growth indicates that as a church expands it's ministry it needs to expand its base of leadership.
Not all of these leaders need to be licensed and ordained clergy.
"Called to lead" is very important as God does not always call the trained, but trains the called. Therefore, the called will meet the needs of the people they serve.
Whether the leader is titled as a pastor, minister, coordinator or facilitator, he must be called and have love for the people he serves. His job description should have the following goals:
- To work with and within the existing older adult existing ministry program to bring it into anticipation with the total church life.
- To become involved with the individuals currently participating in the existing program to the point of identifying their specific needs (been there, done that, continue to do that).
- To concentrate on outreach, evangelism, ministry, for the purpose of discipling people age 50 and up.
- To initiate new programs of service within and without the church (i.e) meals on wheels.
- To work with assigned Deacons in Family Ministry.
- To bring to the pastor older adult needs that require his attention.
- To provide comfort, counsel, and referral as needed during times of personal crises.
In the past people lived in a world that did not change very quickly from generation to generation.
Western society is now much different. Our culture is not one of harmonious continuity from generation to generation, but rather one of abrupt change.
The Second Fifty Years:
The Association of Baptist Ministries With the Aging, reported an alarming statistic, "Today the greatest proportion of suicides are among the elderly,"
Since much senior suicide goes unreported, we have evidence of an overwhelming need that exist within the older adult population.
Therefore, the church has an obligation to seek and develop leadership for the "Encore Generation" (older adult) group.
- The local church has a responsibility to evangelize them.
- The church should be a support group for believing and non-believing older adults.
- The church should provide opportunities for older adults to serve within present and new ministries.
On our next blog, we shall look at some stress factors that cause older adults to be depressed and sometimes suicidal.
Posted on Mon, September 14, 2009