Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Aging and Ministry

I attended a workshop on Aging and Ministry recently and came away with some insights for this ministry as a whole in the future and not just a little bit of excitement about the future for folks who are home bound and unable to attend worship services.

There is no doubt that all aspects of aging will take on new dimensions as the baby boomers continue to reach what we now know as "retirement" age. One point strongly made was that the term "Older Adult Ministry" won't exactly endear those it purports to describe. Plain old Adult Ministry will do fine, thank you very much. We're already using phrases from "Young-Old" "Middle Old" and "Old (or Oldest) Old" to try to describe a population that spans more than two generations. A monthly "meet and eat" with an occasional bus trip isn't going to work for such a widely varied group and we are going to have to re-define what it means to do ministry with older adults.

Even ministry to folks who are no longer able to attend worship services, small group meetings or Bible studies will provide new ways of staying connected with their church families. Netbooks have become so affordable and portable that it's conceivable that they would become as common in nursing homes as televisions and online conferencing and video streaming could not only allow the homebound to attend services in their own church in real time but they could still be active participants in Bible studies, on committees and other small groups. One of the saddest things I see is that no matter how involved someone has been in the life of the church, no amount of visitation and contact ministry can prevent the eventual falling away of an elder who is no longer able to actively participate in the life of the congregation. But I watch Mama as she "Skypes" with her grandchildren and great grandchildren and I am filled with great hope for the possibilities to come. As for me, I plan to have my netbook installed on a tray on my wheelchair so I can continue to be both a happy joy and a royal pain for my family and church family until the funeral home comes to fetch me. Heh heh heh....

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