It is a complete joy to serve our gracious grannies and grandpas and elderly singles and “love on them”. They have such a wealth of wisdom and experience and are wonderful prayer warriors in our midst! Some of them have been married for over 50 years and have great grandchildren.
Focusing on the Elderly:
- We have given a guideline for our ministry to the elderly as those over 60 years old.
“No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, ….” (1 Timothy 5:9)
- God’s intention is that people should care for the elderly in their family. As people get older there are challenges with regard to health and transport. Caring for the elderly involves caring for their spirit, body, mind & soul. Practically it can mean helping transport them to doctors and hair appointments.
“Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family… for this is pleasing to God.” (1 Timothy 5: 3&4)
- God’s desire is that the church would care for the elderly that don’t have family to care for them. Some people don’t have children to care for them financially & physically as they get older, or sometimes children live overseas and can help financially, but not in practical ways.
“If any woman who is a believer has widows in her family, she should help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need.” (1 Timothy 5:16)
- Some of the issues that the elderly face:
- Loneliness: especially when their family members live far away or even overseas.
- Change: eg adapting to retirement, loss of income, physically getting more frail and dependent on others (eg loss of sight or hearing or mobility).
- Loss: of loved ones and spouses, and organising funerals.
- Frailty (physically).
- Loss of independence (eg having to rely on others for transport, cooking meals, etc)
- Feeling they aren’t “useful” anymore because they cannot do the things they once did. The elderly need lots of grace to accept what they can and can’t do.
Our ministry to the elderly:
- We have a team of volunteers who help with transport and visiting. We have some qualified nurses who can assist with medical needs – changing dressings and giving practical advice.
- We have a morning tea (9 times in a year) where the elderly in the church can come & sit at tables and have tea & eats and invite friends and there’s a time of worship, a 15-20 minute sermon/talk, some activity (eg a quizz or crossword) and some prayer. We call this group “Noble Vessels” based on 2 Timothy 2:21 which says “he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” We have it from 9.30-11am.
- We have small groups (“connect groups”) that meet in people’s homes on a weekly basis in the mornings for a time of fellowship, prayer, and learning from the Bible. On the week that we have the Noble Vessels tea there are no connect groups that week.
- We have an “elderly lounge” at our Sunday meetings – where the elderly can go and sit and have tea or coffee brought to them.
- We have some chairs in our Sunday meetings that are more comfortable and with arm rests specially for the elderly. These are placed where the music isn’t too loud.
- As part of our Community Projects we have a retirement home that we run.
Some practical suggestions (from our “Noble Vessels” monthly teas)
- We make an A6 card with the dates of the monthly teas on it and hand it out at the beginning of the year so that the elderly can put it on their fridges. And they are encouraged to invite their friends and be witnesses to those around them.
- The elderly love things “old school” – teacups & saucers instead of mugs, tablecloths with overlays and flowers, cake forks.
- The person who is speaking only shares for 15-20 minutes as the elderly can fall asleep if it is too long. We encourage the speaker to speak clearly and slowly and to have the microphone volume on quite loud (as many are hard of hearing).
- We also try and sing songs and hymns that they enjoy – which perhaps the younger generation don’t know. (preferably with a keyboard or just a guitar and definitely no drums!)
- We try and address issues that are pertinent to the elderly: eg drawing up a will, walking in forgiveness,
- For 2 of our teas (in spring and in summer) we go on an “outing”.