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Engaging older church members

Oct 15, 2021 | MINISTRY, Ministry Strategy | 0 comments

A bottomless fountain of wisdom. Engaging older church members is a wise move! The older or senior church members are a rich and seasoned resource of experience. Above all, they comprise a faithful solid group that has gone through life’s challenges and yet have remained attached to God, fellow believers and His church.

Engaging older church members

Marketers have clearly realized the economic and social implications of the baby boomers. However, church and ministry sectors have yet to grasp the opportunity to connect, develop and engage them.

What value do our seniors bring to the church? A lot. Is there a role for our seniors in God’s present-day ministry and His coming Kingdom? Definitely!

Engaging older church members, as with all critical ministry programs, will require careful and thoughtful planning. Our seniors have a special set of circumstances that we all need to consider.

In the end, and with God’s help, a fruitful senior ministry will engage our dear fellow believers in the Lord’s service.

Where do we begin in engaging older church members?

For churches, ministries, and individual Christians to properly engage with this growing cohort of fellow believers, they must step up in three areas: understanding, sensitivity, and strategy.

Understanding – Know them

In Australia, about 800 people retire from work every day. A lot of these men and women profess faith in Christ. Social commentators regularly highlight their spending power, the looming health care needs, or the upcoming taxation and economic challenges for society.

Many are in their fifties. Some are impoverished, others are wealthy. Most aspire to devote more time to golfing, travelling, or gardening in the decades ahead of them. Yet many have never been presented with a compelling challenge, tailored to their phase of life, about what fulfilment means in what may be the fourth quarter of their lives.

These people have a lifetime of growth, education, experience, and lessons learned. They would probably say they have nothing left to “prove” to anyone, but just want to do something of significance.

Moreover, seniors usually have ample discretionary time on their hands, and in many cases, don’t have the pressing financial distractions of those in earlier stages of life.

Sensitivity – Empathize with them

Is this familiar: “My church seems to think that my contribution is mostly complete. They thank me for my past faithfulness, encourage me to stay connected, but invest all their effort in youth or adult ministry, as though I have nothing left to offer. I feel as though I actually have more to offer than ever!”

We have all heard the story of the business person who used to run a $50 million business but is now retired. Currently, he has been made head of the offering-counting roster at church. How stimulating that must be. Not! It sounds clichéd, but it happens all the time.

A conference delegate said: “I am not just a piece of a puzzle that’s looking for a matching gap in your ministry’s needs matrix.” Certainly, retired Christians are not roster-fodder!

As we try to better engage with our seniors, we need to be extra sensitive to their unique needs and aspirations. Remember, their most strategic contribution may still be ahead of them. Therefore, let their ideas flow and allow them to speak.

Strategy – Work with them

Our seniors have a massive amount of experience behind them, however, they may be the most silent in the church. You’d be surprised how objectives are achieved efficiently and effectively with deep wisdom to help you.

    • Listen to them, and don’t assume that the jobs you have on your “help needed” list are the only options for them.
    • Think bigger than your local church. Many have skills that far exceed the prospects that a single congregation presents.
    • Manage them properly, but not like novices. Put things in writing, manage risks, get legal workplace considerations properly sorted, and then empower and resource them.
    • Exhort them to not let the good get in the way of God’s best for them. Similarly, provide avenues for them to explore what God might have spent all this time preparing them for, and support them as they embark on it!

This article was first published by ChristianSuper.

Read more articles about church growth, click here.

 

Author Bio: Gary Williams is the Founder and National Director of CMA (Christian Management Australia / Christian Ministry Advancement), which has recently launched two subsidiaries, the CMA Standards Council and Q4Connection. Gary is married to Debbie, and father of Abby and Landon.

 

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