Affirming senior adult revivals


Bill Shipp, left, and Pastor John Pennington share a lighthearted moment as folks begin to gather for the senior adult revival at First Baptist Church Douglasville. GERALD HARRIS/Index

Age is relative. I think it should be measured more by attitude and spirit than age.  Leroy Robert “Satchel” Paige, an American Negro League Baseball and Major League Baseball pitcher who became a legend in his own lifetime, once asked, “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?”

It is a good question, but the truth is that I have never felt old, because I am privileged to wake up each morning with a goal, a purpose, and a challenge that lies before me. Aldous Huxley, author and philosopher, stated, “The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which means never losing your enthusiasm.”

I am fully aware, however, that I am a septuagenarian; and I joyfully embrace my people group. I am also reminded of the Psalmist’s prayer, “Now also when I am old and gray headed, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come” (Psalm 71:18).

Most churches are made up of vital, vibrant, and victorious senior saints who exist to glorify God and exalt the Lord Jesus Christ.

However many churches only have a token ministry to senior adults with an occasional pot luck luncheon, a field trip or an occasional hymn thrown into the worship service. Such approaches, however, are woefully inadequate for the task of reaching and ministering to the rapidly growing community of persons over 55.

Lanier Gable leading the congregational singing for the senior adult revival at First Baptist Church Douglasville. GERALD HARRIS/Index Lanier Gable leading the congregational singing for the senior adult revival at First Baptist Church Douglasville. GERALD HARRIS/Index

It is ironic that in the midst of decreasing resources, many churches don’t realize the hidden treasure inherent in the senior adults of the church. In fact, seniors need to be challenged and empowered to share the Gospel, be on mission and become change agents for Christ in our morally decadent society. Churches might well plan senior adult revivals to revitalize and mobilize seniors for service.

In fact, senior adult revivals are a growing phenomenon among Southern Baptist Churches and associations. Most senior adults grew up in a day when churches had spring and fall revivals and some of us remember two-week revivals and protracted meetings. They were often epics in the life of the community. For some elder saints senior adult revivals provide a nostalgic experience that elicits precious memories. For others it is a genuine time of spiritual renewal and a time to reach out to fellow seniors who need the Lord.

On January 6, 2014 LifeWay’s Facts & Trends listed Senior Adult Revivals as a great idea for your church’s calendar. The publication stated, “Plan a weeklong daytime evangelistic revival for senior adults. Serve lunch. Encourage members to bring friends who may not know Christ.”

Recently, I was privileged to preach for the Senior Adult Revival at First Baptist Church in Douglasville where John Pennington is pastor. We sang hymns like “Since Jesus Came Into My Heart,” “When We All Get to Heaven,” “Victory in Jesus,” “Revive Us Again,” and “To God Be The Glory.’’ The congregational singing was accompanied by a piano and organ. The special music was heart-felt, soul-stirring songs sung by gifted soloists and trios.

The Senior Adult Revival was the sixth annual such event sponsored and hosted by the Douglasville church. The pastor, minister to Senior Adults Don Butler and leader of the senior adult “Keenagers” group, Bill Shipp, were all heavily invested in the revival.

Shipp stated, “Senior Adults are assets to any church, and should be considered a vital part of the church family. There is no biblical evidence that God placed the arbitrary age limit of 55+ on His servants, so why should the church?

“Neither is there any evidence that one is productive and of value only in youth. If age had been a consideration in God’s service, we would never have heard of Abraham, Moses, Caleb, etc. Please don’t think God is through with us just because our hair is gray and our steps are slow. Our commitment to Christ has not flagged.

“We still have great potential for service to Him and are confident that He will continue to use us. Don’t count us out. The Psalmist declared “the righteous flourish like the palm tree . . . they still bring forth fruit in old age” (Psalm 92:12,14).

The senior adult revival was well attended, the spirit was extraordinary, the responsiveness of the people heartening and the fellowship around the tables at the lunch provided by the church was “like to that above”.

First Baptist Church Douglasville, senior adult revivals


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