As the number of senior citizens in the United States rises, churches find themselves in the unique position of needing to find ways to get seniors more involved. The problem is, some churches are not sure where to start. In order to help, I recently researched churches and senior centers that have successfully gotten seniors more involved at church. Here are some of their best tips and strategies:
Give the Seniors a Purpose at Church
The CDC reports that older adults are at an increased risk of experiencing depression, and one of the best ways for seniors to combat depression is to help them gain a sense of purpose. Seniors may get involved at church in several ways, in addition to attending services. Seniors may offer spiritual guidance for youth group members, practice hospitality by adopting a college student who has been attending the church, make baked goods for the congregation to share during fellowship after Sunday worship service, edit the church bulletin, take part in a daily prayer chain, or any other activity that gives them a reason to get up in the morning and devote time to the church.
Any activity at the church that gives seniors a purpose can help them break free from their depression. The activity does not have to be time-consuming or cost any money, as long as it gets the seniors more involved at church, motivates them to get out of bed in the morning, and makes them feel good about their involvement.
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Hold Special Ministries for Senior Church Members
Some churches hold morning and afternoon ministries for senior members who may not like to drive after dark. Senior Sunday School Classes, Bible Study groups, Senior Spiritual Luncheons, and other special sessions are popular with seniors who want to get move involved at church. You could even use technology to interact with homebound seniors — conference calls with church leaders, video calls, and even recording Sunday sermons are excellent ways to keep older members who may be ill, injured, or have limited transportation involved in the church.
One way to get started is to poll your senior members and see where their interests lie and then involve your pastor and church council in organizing one or two special senior sessions. As sessions grow or diminish in popularity, reevaluate and make adjustments to the schedule and session offerings as needed.
Start a Senior Mail Team
For seniors who like to keep busy while socializing, a Senior Mail Team is the perfect opportunity for getting more involved at church. Senior Mail Teams may meet once a week or once every other week to assemble church newsletters, announcements, bulletins, and other church information. They also may stuff envelopes to mail special offerings and other church materials to members.
Senior Mail Teams may coincide with a luncheon group, so the members have a chance to socialize with one another and enjoy fellowship together. They also may pray together, celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, and enjoy one another’s company while completing administrative tasks for their congregation.
Game Groups and Hobby Classes
Senior church members often enjoy spending time with their peers, and one of the most popular activities churches offer to senior members is a game and hobby afternoon. It’s quite common to find churches that hold Pitch or Bridge games in fellowship halls one afternoon a week. Often, these game groups run simultaneously with hobby classes such as fly tying, quilting, or stitching.
As with the special ministries, the game groups and hobby classes should begin by surveying senior church members to determine the types of games and hobbies they would be interested in participating in at church once a week. Some churches have so much interest in game groups and hobby classes that they alternate weekly offerings or hold the activities two afternoons a week.
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Getting seniors more involved at church is possible, and some churches have thriving senior communities. Determine the interest levels of your senior members and offer activities in which they express interest, to successfully get seniors more involved at church.
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