The second “S” in SENIORS+ ministry stands for Service. How do you serve others? How can you become engaged?

Service opportunities within the local church and community abound both by older adults and for older adults. Older adults can carry out acts of service from their homes as well in the form of phone calls to other seniors to check in on their well-being and sending cards for celebration and condolences. While these activities take place already, bringing this activity to the fore in churches can help to empower those who otherwise might feel they are unable to contribute to the community of faith. These are activities that the homebound can carry out and remain an integral part of the congregation. Older Adult Ministries across the country are moving beyond the doors of their homes and churches to serve in community. For example, Grace Presbyterian Church in Houston, Texas, was instrumental in serving the families who were evacuated to Houston during Hurricane Katrina. This group of dedicated seniors reached out to the evacuees, learned their names, ages, and clothing sizes. The information was shared with local congregations, donations were collected, and spread among the evacuees. 75 families, including 250 people were adopted by just one congregation.[1] Environmental action by older adults is another avenue for service in the community. For example, seniors in Solomon’s Island, Maryland, are reclaiming oyster beds by seeding and nurturing the oysters.[2]

The groups that are formed through service, whether it be to hurricane victims or the homeless or the imprisoned, benefit the older adults in a variety of ways. There are many different motivations and benefits for the older adults involved. It can return a sense of value and worth that may have been seen as lost. Some turn to service projects later in life simply because they have more time and income at their disposal. Interpersonal relationships can be built. This can be especially crucial for older adults who have experienced loss of friends, siblings, or spouses. “Studies have also found that volunteerism tends to improve the life satisfaction of older adults and it has a positive effect on their health.”[3] Some churches have neglected to see their older adults as valuable resources full of life experience and wisdom and instead they have bought into the world’s lie that once someone reaches a particular age they should slow down and let the younger people take over.[4] A new style Older Adult Ministry discourages disengagement of the older adult from involvement in service in favor of recognizing their gifts and talents and the benefits to health, both spiritual and physical.

[1] Hanson, Amy. Creating New Opportunities, 4.

[2] Harrell, Charles.

[3] Hanson, Creating New Opportunities, 4.

[4] Hanson, Amy. Creating New Opportunities, 7.

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