Earlier this week, I heard a story from a friend that deeply moved my heart. She told me about one of her own friends visiting a grocery store this past weekend and noticing a clearly distraught elderly couple sitting in their car, but unmoving from the vehicle. When this woman finished her shopping, she saw the same couple still sitting in the same spot. Sensing a problem, she knocked on their car window and asked them if they were ok. The older man lowered the window and with tears in his eyes, explained how scared they were to go shopping. They said they didn’t want to be exposed to the coronavirus, but had no idea where it might be spreading in the community or who had it.
The young woman immediately said, “Let me go shopping for you, I’ll get everything you need!” And so she did – this young woman returned to the store with their shopping list and picked up everything they needed. When she returned, the couple asked how much they owed her and she, “Nothing, I’m covering the cost.” Once again, the couple broke down in tears.
You all – this is the Gospel in action! This is what it looks like when we see a need and respond to it in tender loving compassion and mercy.
When I heard this story, I was so moved that I knew I had to make a post to help describe some unique ways that we, as Christians, can serve the elderly at any time, especially those who are in our church!
While youth culture is idolized in the western world, the eastern world has deeper reverence and respect for older people, and honestly, I think this is the right approach. There is so much life and so much wisdom to garner from people who have lived a long life. We would all benefit more if we looked to our seniors to be our life models, instead of youth…but that’s a different subject for a different day.
Today, I want to share with you some unique and meaningful ways you can serve and extend compassion to seniors in your congregation and in your life.
Committed and Continual Prayer
No ministry is genuinely doing Kingdom work unless it is closely tied to God and His mission for us. That means prayer and discipleship have to be core fundamentals. Ask everyone involved to remain in continual prayer for seniors, stay in contact with them, and discover their unique prayer requests.
Offer Technology Help
Many seniors, particularly in the older demographic, could use help arranging and understanding how to make video calls with their family, or using other pieces of technology to help them stay connected. Offering tech help, or organizing people to provide tech help, is one way to help seniors keep in touch with those they love and have better access to information.
Offer To Help Seniors Learn How To Do Online Grocery Shopping
Store delivery and pick up services are a great way to avoid crowds and have a safer shopping environment, but some seniors may have never used such services or are aware of how to do so. Help in this area might be a great way to serve them during an array of difficult situations.
Arrange For Youth And Children To Do Projects Or Create Gifts
Ask youth and children’s ministry leaders to create a project or gifts to serve seniors. It could be as simple as creating art and drawings, or organizing them into mission teams to serve in unique ways suitable to their skill levels.
Create Daily Devotions or Weekly Content For Seniors
Are there spiritually-mature folks in your church who are great with the written word? Why not organize a daily or weekly devotion for seniors directly from your church community? For example, if you can find seven writers, assign each a day and ask them submit devotions a week in advance. Simply arrange the devotions into a printable format for emailing or printing and delivering to their homes. This is just another way to share local ministry without
Send A Card Or Hand-Written Note
Nothing beats hand-written when you want to express care and concern. The extra effort and personable nature of a hand-written note or card goes a long way in showing care. Be sure to include personal and thoughtful details and let the senior know how you’ve been thinking and praying for them.
Organize Service and Errand Teams
The core of any sustained ministry to seniors begins with organization. If you are expecting to fulfill ministry needs over a longer period of time, then creating a stronger structure is necessary. Small groups (3-10 members) can help with grocery and supplies buying and delivery, chores, transportation, and any other needs. Be sure to establish a leadership and communication structure. Assign seniors to groups and have group leaders clearly communicate to seniors that they are available to help and will check in with them periodically.
Ask Seniors What Their Biggest Disruptions Are And Respond To Their Needs
Be sure to ask seniors what their biggest disruptions look like in their lives and offer to find unique solutions. It is almost impossible to assume every problem or situation they might be dealing with, so be sure to ask, because there may be simple ways to help.
Just Give Them A Call
Honestly, just stay connected with older people in your church. Give them a call, let them know you’re thinking about them, ask them how they are doing. This requires no organization and no information other than a phone number, and can really brighten their day. Be sure to give plenty of time for the conversation, if they want to talk, so call when both of you are potentially available for conversation.
So there you have it! Nine ideas for meeting the needs of seniors who may not be able to connect, socialize, and worship in the ways that they have in the past. Were there any ideas on this list that might be helpful for the seniors in your church community? How could you possibly blend a few ideas together and cover more needs with less effort on your part?
Ministering to seniors doesn’t need to be complicated or require enormous amounts of effort. The most important thing is a loving-heart, genuine concern, and to have the motivation to serve Christ and live out the Gospel in our communities.
Blessings as you seek to develop stronger ministry to seniors in your church community, and always be on the lookout for new and innovative ways to help meet their needs and experience the love of Jesus through their church.