Senior adults offer vital ministry force in church, community

Senior adults offer vital ministry force in church, community

By Carolyn Tomlin
Correspondent, The Alabama Baptist

Billy Graham, an American evangelist, died in February 2018 at age 99. Graham ministered to U.S. presidents as well as the poor and homeless. Even beyond retirement age, his crusades brought in thousands and led people to Christ.

Laura Ingalls Wilder, the author known for the “Little House on the Prairie” series, captured the attention of American school children by the stories of her childhood and youth. Born in 1867, Wilder was 65 when her first book was published and 76 when the eighth book came off the press. The ninth and final manuscript was found after Wilder’s death and published in its original draft form in 1971.

Associate Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., who retired from the U.S. Supreme Court in 1932 at the age of 90, once said, “Old is fifteen years older than I am now.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 16 percent of Alabama’s 4.8 million people are over the age of 65. The average life expectancy in the United States is 81 years for women and 76 years for men.

No one is too old

In 2 Corinthians, Paul tells the Christians at Corinth that regardless of your age or your circumstances in life, God expects us to be faithful. No one is ever too old to serve the Lord. God can use seniors in miraculous ways. Never let it be said, “We have served our time.”

Rick Evans, pastor of Dalraida Baptist Church, Montgomery, said he believes in his church’s strong and active senior adult program known as “New Beginnings.”

The program encourages those in the fellowship who are 55 and over to develop mature spiritual growth and to enhance their lives. That includes small group studies, evangelistic outreach and fellowship events.

“Approximately 50 percent of our congregation are seniors,” Evans said. “In our church, we believe fellowship is essential. Like other areas, we have widows and widowers who enjoy an active program our church provides. Our homebound ministry has volunteers who deliver literature, make monthly visits and provide a monthly meal.”

What are some ways you can get involved in your own church and community as a senior?

1. Organize a senior adult Bible study. Retirement offers many opportunities to develop a deeper relationship with God.

2. Make new friends. Do you have new neighbors in your community? If they do not have a church home, invite them to attend and worship with you.

3. Rekindle an old hobby or develop a new one. Hobbies range from needlepoint, collecting coins and refurnishing antiques to crossword puzzles and adult coloring books. And getting involved in these can help you meet others who love these hobbies too — another opportunity to share the gospel.

4. Volunteer your services. People need people. Tutor in schools, participate in after-school programs, distribute last quarter’s literature to assisted living homes or nursing homes or assist your church librarian.

5. Participate in a community garden. Many urban areas provide garden space for low-economic groups. If you enjoy being outdoors, working in the fresh air and sunshine and being a part of God’s good earth, then gardening is for you.

6. Work from home. If you’re homebound or do not have transportation, make a list of things you can do to serve both God and others. For example, send birthday, sympathy and get-well cards to those in your church. Access the computer to listen to church services. Use social media to stay in touch with your congregation. Phone a friend just to say “hello” and “I’m praying for you.”