May is Older Americans Month, a distinction that “shows [the nation’s] commitment to honoring the value that elders contribute to our community.” Elders contribute significant value to our churches — membership, service and volunteer work, tithes and bequests are just a few areas of elders’ contributions — but to what extent do we openly address aging in the church?
In her United Methodist Reporter column, Missy Buchanan suggests that the church should “make it a priority to get people across the life span to start talking about aging in spiritual terms.” This conversation would not only help congregants feel more comfortable with the aging process (it becomes viewed as “part of God’s plan,”) but also increase people’s awareness and respect for members of the older generation. The conversation would also encourage older members to explore their “spiritual legacy,” helping them see ways of remaining a vital part of the church even as their physical abilities change.
Buchanan offers three main ways to introduce this conversation at your church:
- Develop a sermon series on aging
- Host health and wellness events at your church
- Invite Sunday School classes to have discussions and speakers on topics related to aging.
A fourth idea might be to create a Bible study and invite people spanning a range of ages to participate.
For insights on how the Bible addresses aging, check out these articles:
Do you have a unique way of talking about aging or valuing the contributions of older adults in your church? We would love to hear about it in the comments section below!
(Top photo by Flickr user FirstBaptistNashville, lower by viewminder, both via Creative Commons)