Sunday, September 11, 2011 will be Sunday school “move-up” day on many church calendars. Perhaps it will also be a special day to remember the tragic event of ten years ago.
But each church is also urged to identify that week, Monday through Saturday, as “Seniors’ Week.” Seize an opportunity to recognize this fast-growing portion of our population and in our church life. Commit that time and some creative energy to fulfilling the frequent Biblical command to “Honor elders.”
Begin with full recognition that each person (of whatever age, even the not-yet-born) bears the image of God; don’t treat seniors as though they were “different.” And we’re all on the same continuum called the “ageing process,” some simply a bit further along.
Look for opportunities for “intergenerational interaction.” Are there youth programs that might include senior involvement (seniors have much wisdom and experience available and often not used)? Children can interview seniors (about their childhood, school, hobbies, friends, places they lived, lessons for “me”). Seniors can speak to children/youth about history (World War II, life in the “old country,” life “the way it used to be,” life before TV). Maybe the senior highs could prepare a lunch (on Saturday) for the seniors.
Seminars could use topics of importance to seniors (spiritual issues, finances, health, medicare, how to deal with severe transitions). Perhaps they could be rotated each day among churches in the area. Bible study might focus on the ministry of specific seniors in the Bible and on the need for seniors to be active in ministry now.
“Wheels to Meals” is a ministry of a local church in taking seniors out to a restaurant (“Meals under Wheels” is road kill!). Plan a special luncheon or dinner.
In addition to, or instead of, a minister, consider using speakers with special experience/expertise, for example, a banker, lawyer, doctor, nurse, doctor’s office manager, social worker, police officer, counselor (e.g., from a nursing home), nutritionist or a financial planner.
Everyone benefits when seniors themselves minister to others. Use this week to begin a ministry BY seniors. Others in the church will benefit and so will the seniors who may find new purpose in their lives. Form a regular prayer group that will focus on children and families in the congregation. Ask a mission in town what help is needed.
Plan a one day trip or outing, something special. Saturday may be best for this, as many seniors continue at work and other commitments during the week.
For additional information about seniors, review the Serving and Challenging Seniors manual, available from the CEP Bookstore or contact George Fuller, CEP’s senior ministry consultant, at FullerGJ@Verizon.net.