With the first baby boomer turning sixty years of age in 2006, many churches are starting to "catch a vision" of the mature-adult harvest field! Truly, as Jesus said in John 4:34–35, the field is white already to harvest, and that field is full of senior adults. But what are some of the basics in beginning a ministry to senior adults? This is the first of a four-part series of informational articles on starting and developing a twenty-first-century ministry to mature adults.
I would like to use the simple letters A, B, C as steps to consider when initiating a senior adult ministry.
Agree . . .
Every church should first pray until the leadership agrees that a senior adult program is not an option but an integral part of the life of the church. If every soul matters to God, then to ignore this ever-growing segment of our population, for whatever reason, only makes the church betray its own mission statement. A commitment to reach out to this large group will include devoting resources, people, and prayer to see God work. In later articles, we will address some of the major obstacles that a church faces in starting a new ministry. However, be encouraged that obstacles can be overcome, leaders and workers can be found, and the church can reach out effectively to seniors in their city.
Begin . . .
Once a church agrees to have this ministry, the next step is easy. You begin! What is the best number with which to start a senior adult ministry? Whatever number you have, start with them. If a church has only three or four seniors, then that's a great start. Church growth specialists Charles and Win Arn, in their book Catch the Age Wave (Kansas City, Mo.: Beacon Hill Press, 1999, chapter 7), show that every person has between four and seven close contacts. If just half of the small group of four senior adults invited half of their "web of influence," the group could double in size instantly! Don't worry about numbers, just begin ministering to the senior adults you already have. They are the key to growing your ministry. As your current seniors sense that they have a mission and purpose for existing, they will begin to share with other seniors about what's going on down at the church!
Taking a survey among your senior adults to find areas of interests, needs, and talents can help lay the groundwork for new ministries (if two or three enjoy cooking, you can have a new ministry). Every senor adult group should begin with the idea of "ministry" in mind. Some churches provide "maintenance" to seniors, but not ministry opportunities. These close-ended groups will often lose their appeal because people want not only to have fellowship, but also to make their life count for Christ!
Call . . .
After your church has agreed on the importance of a ministry, and has begun to minister to its current seniors, the time has come for the church to call a meeting of all those who might be interested in an exciting new ministry at the church!
Everyone should know about and be welcomed to this meeting, young and old! You want to have a good group at this first meeting. Ask the pastor or a board member to come to give the group credibility and the church's blessing! Share with the group about a new ministry the church is starting and how they can be involved. Share current statistics of the senior adult population in your area. If you do this first meeting right, God will bring together some who want to be involved in this new opportunity. No, not everyone will want to have a part, but God will be faithful to bring those He wants to be involved in this new ministry.
In the next article, we will look at one of the most crucial parts of a new ministry: leadership. What are the ingredients of a good senior adult leader, and how can you find the right people to lead the group? For now, it is enough for you to put into practice the ABCs of senior adult ministry! Why not start today.