DULUTH — Many churches are capitalizing on one of their greatest resources – senior adults. They are viewing their retirement not as the end of an old life, but as the beginning of a new one. They are using their retirement as a time for work, study, service, and play.
There is little evidence that today’s senior adults are inactive, inert, and ineffective. In fact, a very many seniors today eat nutritionally, exercise regularly, and are active, involved, altruistic, service-oriented, forward-looking, and even adventurous.
Recent statistics show that the number of senior adults is growing three times faster than the rest of the American population. Charles Arn, the president of Church Growth, Inc., reports that United States citizens over age 65 outnumber the entire population of Canada; and of all those who have lived to age 65 – in the history of the world – two-thirds of them are alive today.
First Baptist Church in Duluth has a community of loving and caring senior adults who have a wide variety of interests, talents, and life experiences, drawn together by the common thread of faith in Christ.
On Sunday, April 24 Pastor Mark Hearn and First Baptist underscored how much they value senior adults by turning the spotlight on them in a special recognition service.
Keith Murdock, adult pastor of the church, acknowledged that First Baptist has 50 church or Sunday School members over 80 years old with four-fifths of them active. Additionally, the church has 14 members in their 90s and four of them are active.
Recent statistics show that the number of senior adults is growing three times faster than the rest of the American population.
Murdoch explained, “We recognized 25 individuals who have been members between 50 and 59 years, seven who have been members between 60 and 69 years, two sisters who have been members more than 75 years, and one dear saint who had been a member 82 years.”
Murdock continued, “First Baptist celebrated our 130th anniversary this year. We thought that our annual Senior Adult Day would be a great time to recognize our ‘tenured’ members. We introduced each member in front of the congregation and they were presented a personalized certificate. Each certificate had inscribed on it the words of Psalm 71:17: “Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.”
“Our theme for the day,” stated Murdock, “was Psalm 71: 18: ‘Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.’
“One of the most remarkable things was when we recognized Sam Pittard for being a member for 82 years. One of the ’50-year’ members told our pastor that Mr. Pittard was one of her Sunday School teachers when she was a child.
“God commands us to raise up the next generation, to hand off the baton of faith to those that come after us. We are not to just rest on what we have done. First Duluth is involved in a strategy called ‘Pray for me.’
“Our goal is for each member of the next generation to have an adult praying for them each day during the school year. Over half our seniors are praying daily for a specific young person in the church. What better way to unite the generations than through the discipline of daily prayer.
“Several of our seniors lead a Bible study at two assisted living facilities each weekend. The Golden Notes, our senior adult choir, regularly sings in our worship service and often goes to other churches, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities to sing for the residents. They staff the food pantry that is open twice each week. A senior also serves as our volunteer receptionist each day. I have the privilege of teaching preschoolers during worship with an 89-year-old member. The preschoolers love to hear him sing and color with him.”
While some seniors may want to be pampered and coddled, most have much to give and are ready, willing, and able. Tap this invaluable resource and it could enliven and revitalize your church.