My wife Faith teaches a college class at Faith Baptist Bible College called Ministering to the Aging. She invited me to speak in her class. It was the first time I wrote down my thoughts on senior adult ministries in the church. Below are my notes. I added some ideas as I spoke that are not included here. I hope this perspective may be helpful.
I had the opportunity to pastor two churches that had specialized ministries to senior adults. One was developing and the other well-established with a full-time pastor overseeing it. As the lead pastor I did not directly oversee this ministry, but definitely had a heart for these people’s spiritual growth. As I look back over the years of ministering to these dear people, I am grateful for their vital role in the church and their personal impact on me. They are some of the most faithful, prayerful, generous, and supportive people I have known.
Ephesians 4:11-12 says that pastors equip the saints for the work of the ministry unto the edifying of the body of Christ. Senior adults are included in the saints that pastors equip, and they are capable of effectively doing work that builds up the body of Christ. These objectives provide guidance for thinking about effective senior adult ministries in the local church.
Repetition aids memory; meditation internalizes. That’s why the psalmist was confident that a steady diet of Scripture would keep him from sin (Ps. 119:11). Elderly people tend to get forgetful, and they also tend to lose certain inhibitions that once would have kept private thoughts from being advertised. Observe this phenomenon and take it to heart. Your mother warned you not to make faces, lest your face would get stuck that way. And she was right. If you smile (or frown) a lot today, your octogenarian face will show it, like it or not.
Maggie Jackson made it well past the octogenarian stage. She was over ninety when we knew her—my wife and I, newlyweds, picking her up from her nursing home and bringing her to church so many Sunday mornings. She’d reminisce to us. Even though she was ninety plus, her repertoire was limited. She was getting a bit forgetful. So we listened to the same stories week after week. Her salvation as a young person; her attendance at Moody; her long and happy marriage to a pastor about twenty years her senior (he had died long ago). Whatever the story, the moral was the same: “God has been so good to me.” This statement from a lady with no family but the church, in poor health, recently moved into a nursing home.