Aged and unproductive farm animals were often put out to pasture when their days of usefulness ended. They no longer had responsibilities but just grazed on the land, becoming receivers rather than being givers.
One of the greatest needs of Christian senior adults is to have a purpose for living. Many of these saints still desire to be used by and for God. Their various skills, talents, gifts and abilities can make immense contributions, benefiting the entire body of Christ. Age is on their side, too, because they bring experience, maturity and wisdom to any situation.
A practical way seniors can be useful is to volunteer their services, possibly eliminating some expenses in the church budget. Depending on the needs of individual congregations and the expertise of members, avenues of ministry might include:
• Answering the telephone and performing other secretarial duties at the church
• Maintaining the grounds and building
• Preparing meals for church functions
• Attending the nursery during worship services, Mother’s Day Out programs, Vacation Bible School and other events held at the church
• Conducting Bible studies and conferences
• Serving as wedding consultant and/or coordinator
• Playing musical instruments or offering vocal renditions
• Facilitating various support groups
• Helping in the church library
• Coaching recreational and sports leagues
• Mentoring children, teens and younger adults
• Assisting with food pantry and clothes closet ministries
• Volunteering for media ministries—writing newsletters, monitoring the sound system, photographing new members and church events
• Offering information technology (IT) assistance
• Providing bereavement ministry
• Visiting members who are homebound; hospitalized; or residing in nursing facilities, assisted-living centers, and prisons
Serving in the church also affords senior adults an opportunity to socialize with others, thereby lessening the likelihood of loneliness and depression. Establishing a telephone prayer ministry to contact those who live alone could prove valuable in exhibiting love, bearing one another’s burdens, and preventing isolation.
Personalities among the elderly differ. While certain people might eagerly offer their services without being asked, the nominating committee could consider additional members and ask them to assist in areas of need. With a little nudge and encouragement to let them know they are wanted, others can be brought into the ranks of service.
God used some of the biblical characters well past their prime in life! Isaac was born to elderly parents with Sarah being 90 years old and Abraham 100 at the time of his birth. Adam fathered Seth when he was 130. Although God didn’t allow Moses himself to enter the Promised Land, he was 80 at the beginning of his trek through the wilderness and 120 when the Children of Israel reached their destination. The Bible says Moses was strong and had good eyesight at that ripe old age. Caleb was sent out as a spy when he was 40; yet at 85, he testified he had as much strength as he had had 45 years earlier. Anna, a prophetess and widow of about 84, served God with “fastings and prayers” in the temple day and night.
Age is not a hindrance in the hand of God to use seniors surrendered to His will. God, Whose years are endless, equips His servants to accomplish His kingdom’s work. Therefore, may the church of Jesus Christ never be guilty of shelving seasoned saints or putting them out to pasture!
“Serve the Lord with gladness…We are His people and the sheep of His pasture” (Ps. 100: 2-3).