Innovative Ministry
Grandma Went to Woodstock: 5 Principles for Pastoring a Vibrant Older Congregation
The generation that grew up on Led Zeppelin will affect our churches differently than those who listened to Lawrence Welk.

3. Send Them, Don't Just Tend Them

Seniors may not have the physical stamina to do some tasks any more. But they often have more time, finances and wisdom than their younger counterparts.

Yes, in a church filled with seniors, there will be more need for hands-on pastoral care. But that pastoral care should be distributed among the rest of the church body. Caring for each other, not expecting paid clergy to do it all.

Valuing senior believers doesn’t just mean doing ministry for them, it means doing ministry with them.

Valuing senior believers doesn’t just mean doing ministry for them, it means doing ministry with them.

So sure, the church can still take a bus trip to Branson. But when they get home they can and should be activated into vibrant, life-giving ministry.

There’s no excuse for a church filled with passive Christian seniors any more than there’s an excuse for a church filled with passive Christian youth.

4. Keep a Forward Focus

The seniors who have been the backbone of your church are different than the seniors who are coming next.

Grandma went to Woodstock. She’s more likely to have hidden a copy of Rolling Stone from her parents than to have displayed the Saturday Evening Post on the coffee table.

This upcoming era of seniors (my era) won’t want the same things from church that my parents’ era wanted. And we won’t contribute to ministry in the same way, either.

A church that ministers to younger people needs to anticipate the needs of the next generation. A church that wants to stay strong while ministering to seniors needs to do the same thing.

Look at least a decade ahead. Start asking how the 50-somethings of today might want to participate in the life of the church differently as they start graying.

The Jesus People of the ‘60s and ‘70s changed the way younger churches did ministry then. And they’ll change the way older churches do ministry in the future.

5. Find New Ways to Reach and Keep Them

Just because a church is predominantly ministering to and with senior adults doesn’t exempt it from the Great Commission.

A vibrant older congregation needs to reach out to the older folks in their community, not just caring for the ones they’ve got (although that should certainly be done, too).

But the next generation of seniors will have far less interest in church traditions than the current one. Many of today’s mature adults have never attended church. Some never had a praying parent or grandparent.

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November 09, 2016 at 8:00 PM

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