8 Important Questions (and Answers) for Effective Senior Adult Ministry

There’s a lot of discussion these days on reaching the Boomers and Millennials, but what about previous generations, often called the G.I. or Builder, and including the Silent generations, all born between 1900-1945? Many of them have already passed away, yet many of them need to be reached for Jesus Christ! This resource offers some ideas and thoughts about how to reach, teach, and minister to these senior adults

(1900-1945; Builders, G.I. Generation, Silent)

Responses by Jeff Ingram, Adult Ministry Strategist

  1. What do you feel is the biggest unmet need in this generation?
    We need to help them find meaning and purpose in their later years. Ministries suited for their physical and mental capabilities need to be explored. Too often they consider themselves retired, and look to the church to minister to them, rather than seeing this period in their lives as an opportunity to continue serving Christ by serving others.
  2. What do you feel is the most overlooked or underused benefit of this generation? (What do they “bring to the table” that is different from other generations?)
    Their commitment to tithing and faithful giving to their church and SBC causes. They are often expected to pay the bills, support building campaigns, and support new ministries. However, their commitment to giving, that is, why they give sacrificially and how they were faithful through the good years and bad years, is often not shared with younger generations.
  3. What benefits does this generation bring to the corporate worship experience? What pitfalls (if any) face this generation in the corporate worship experience?
    Stability and faithfulness. Stability through doctrinal integrity and not chasing after what’s new and hot. Faithfulness to the Great Commission and not a watering down of the church’s mission through contemporary trends that have not withstood the test of authenticity. The pitfall would be their preferences for a particular style of worship over a style that is reaching other age-groups in their community. Many would argue their style is the right way, rather than just what they prefer and are comfortable.
  4. How well have you observed this generation relating to others in the local church/ministry?
    Not very well; in too many churches there are few young and middle adults, and therefore, few children and youth. In other churches, there is a division between the older church members and the younger church members. One is pushing for change; the other is pushing for tradition; both cannot understand the other’s stance.
  5. What are three or four ways that church leadership can be more prepared to include this generation in the corporate worship experience? 
    Use them in various aspects of the worship services. Let them share their stories of God’s faithfulness in their lives through their many years of life. Church leadership can refuse to take sides by keeping everyone focused on the worship of God and not on their own preferences. Some churches are successful by incorporating all styles of music in their services; and/or using a choir, praise team, and various instruments.
  6. What does the church need to know about this generation to be able to include them in a multigenerational worship experience? 
    They grew up in a world that was rapidly changing, but the church was not changing. The church was growing rapidly numerically, financially, denominationally. These senior adults do not understand why the church and denomination they built is not experiencing the same expansion. They do not believe their church system is broken, and do not understand why younger generations want to change what has worked so well in the past. The different generations need to understand this about one another.
  7. What two or three things could be done to help this generation in overcoming barriers to a multigenerational worship experience?
    In some cases I don’t believe these barriers will be overcome. Some of these churches may continue to dwindle numerically. I do believe many problems can be overcome as the generations meet together and seek to understand and love one another. For example, the older generation needs to be more concerned about their children and grandchildren being involved in a local church and doing what is necessary biblically to make this happen. The younger generations need to realize change is slow and difficult for their elders; and that their younger ways are not necessary the right ways. Both generations need to realize their preferences are not what the kingdom of God is about.
  8. How can the local church / ministry be more inclusive of this generation?
    To not write it off as no longer useful to the church and kingdom. Many have the mindset that they have done their time and are in retirement. Opportunities need to be made available, and they need to be freed to start new ministries. Homebound senior adults especially need to be given opportunities to minister, even if they are not able to attend the church campus. They should never be forgotten about by their church. Children’s and youth groups can also befriend these shut-ins.