We introduced in the first article the ABCs of starting a ministry targeting the senior adult community. The church must accept and agree about the need for this ministry. Then, begin with whomever you have and call a general meeting of anyone who is interested. Once you have done that, you must begin to look for those who will lead the program. Some churches will want to pick a leader even before calling the first meeting. Good leadership is important in any new ministry, but when dealing with the opportunity and obstacles that a senior adult ministry will face, it is vital to have the people that God wants to lead this effort. What should you look for in a senior adult leader?
It may surprise you, but age is not the qualifying factor. Perhaps someone in your congregation has shown an interest in, or burden for, "older" people. Perhaps a younger couple can be used by God to lead your group. However God leads, the pastor and leaders of the church need to be involved. Talk to the leaders of your church. Most pastors will support and be glad for someone to begin a ministry to senior adults. However, if they are not, it will be difficult to get much support and encouragement. That is why prayer is vitally important to the beginning of a new ministry.
What should you look for in a leader for this new group? A leader of senior adults should have the following four qualities:
- The leader must love seniors. As with any age group, people can sense if a person is doing a ministry out of duty or devotion. Love must be the beginning of a great seniors ministry.
- The senior adult leader must also like being around the elderly. Most seniors enjoy talking about what has happened during their lifetime. They love to sing the old hymns and talk about camp meetings and revivals they attended. Seniors' children and grandchildren often play an important role in their life. The senior leader must enjoy talking and listening to this group.
- The leader must also be willing to "let go" and share responsibility with others in the group. A key factor in developing a strong ministry to seniors is to give an opportunity for those who have the talents and wisdom in different areas to bless others. This will have a twofold effect. Not only will the person have an opportunity to be used of God, but also the group will be stronger as a whole by using the strengths of others, rather than one person trying to do it all.
- A good leader will also be someone who is willing to learn new information. Today's senior has different needs from those of the previous generation. Many new resources are available, and the leader needs to continually learn new methods and ways of ministering to this changing population.
As mentioned earlier, age should not be the sole factor in selecting a leader. You want someone with a love and desire to reach out to this group. An older person who has a vision but not enough physical strength would be a good advisor, but not the leader. In addition, the leader must also be willing to learn and try new ways of reaching people. Perhaps God already has someone in your congregation who, with the right encouragement and training, could be a great leader to the group and a blessing to the church and community.