Ministry to Seniors: 6 Ways to Include Seniors in Church Life

Senior adults are a precious part of every church. Finding the best way to minister to them is a wonderful way to honor them and the Lord.

At many churches, they have been attending for years, investing their time and resources into building the church up. Some of them may have literally been involved in the construction of the church building!

Life has changed for them over the years, and doesn’t look the same as it used to. Senior ministry has also changed, and the activities and methods used years ago might not be as effective. 

Building a church culture where seniors are a valued part of the church family is an important part of ministry to seniors. What does that look like in a practical way in a church? Let’s spend some time looking at seniors as part of the church family.

The Importance of Senior Adults in the Church

As we consider the older adult population, it must be said that the perception of who is a senior varies greatly.

Someone who is 55 might be considered to be at retirement age, and years ago, that might have been more generally true, especially for the Builder and Boomer generations. 

But today, fewer jobs come with pensions and retirement benefits, extending the working age of some people into their 60s and beyond.

ministry to seniors - older woman standing and smiling in nature

That is to say, the ministry needs of someone who is 55 will vary greatly from someone who is 85. We see this type of age distinction in youth ministry, so we should also consider a distinction in a senior ministry that could include people over 30 years apart in age.

This article takes a look at the older seniors. Younger seniors generally tend to involve themselves. They may be able to more easily volunteer, to drive themselves, or already be involved with other groups or families.

However, some older seniors are more isolated. They might not drive anymore (or at least not at night), they could be widows or widowers, or they might have health issues that prevent them from participating in church life regularly.

Senior Adults as Valuable Members

These senior adult members often have a lot to offer. Their wealth of experience and the wisdom they have gained from it can be helpful and encouraging to young people.

Yet we shouldn’t only minister to them because of what they have to offer. Some people have acted immaturely all their lives, and might continue to do so, even in their old age. It’s important to minister to them as well, and show the love of Jesus to them.

The Bible reminds us to esteem and learn from the older generations. 

(Be sure not to miss the free printable with Bible verses for seniors at the end of this post!)

ministry to seniors - deuteronomy 32 7

Deuteronomy 32:7

“Remember the days of old.  Consider the years of many generations. Ask your father, and he will show you; your elders, and they will tell you.” 

In Deuteronomy 32, Moses described the history and nature of Israel’s relationship with God. In verse 7, he urged the younger generation to seek guidance and wisdom from their elders. 

This verse highlights the importance of connection among the generations, encouraging the younger generations to learn from the experiences and insights of those who have preceded them. 

By engaging with the older generations, younger people can gain valuable knowledge, perspective, and understanding.

ministry to seniors - proverbs 20 29

Proverbs 20:29

“The glory of young men is their strength. The splendor of old men is their gray hair.”

In this verse, gray hair is presented as a symbol of accomplishment and wisdom. While younger individuals may possess physical strength and vigor, older individuals have the advantage of their accumulated life experiences and knowledge.

We value the older generations for their wisdom and experience. But we should also value them because we are all valuable to the Lord. 

People might consider the children the future of the church, and the seniors the past of this church. This is not accurate. 

The church family is not limited by age or ability or perceived worth. Everyone at the church is a valued part of the church family, and should be treated as such.

This is why it is so important to create a culture that honors and includes senior adults into church life. 

Some groups at church might be age-limited, like youth group. Others might focus on a stage of life, like newly married young adults. But for many activities, there is no reason that seniors can’t feel welcome there.

Some seniors might need to adjust expectations to participate in activities for everyone. Sometimes as we age, we might perceive our own preferences as the “right” way to do something, rather than a preference. 

Just because a song is not a hymn or the Bible translation isn’t the one you grew up with does not make it “wrong.”

Of course, it is important to stay faithful to the Word of God, and one should stand up for that. But one should not confuse Biblical principles with their own personal preferences.

Not every event needs to be designed specifically for the senior adult population. But as long as the events aren’t meant for a particular age or phase of life, they should feel welcome at each event.

This gives seniors an opportunity to gain perspective from younger generations, as well as share their faith stories with others. The testimonies of older generations can help younger generations gain understanding of God’s faithfulness.

Practical Ideas for Ministry to Seniors

Here are some ideas for your senior adult ministry. Each idea may not fit every situation, but one of the ideas could be very meaningful to your senior members. Pray that God will give you wisdom in ministering to these precious seniors.

Some of these ideas help include seniors into church life. Other ideas are for intentional older adult ministry, and try to meet seniors where they are at in terms of felt needs, concerns or preferences.

Because of the size of your church or other limitations, you may not have a dedicated senior ministry, but you can still use some of these ideas to have a church family that ministers to seniors.

Spiritual Care Team

ministry to seniors - younger woman and older woman standing in front of a church

A wonderful addition to a church that benefits not only seniors, but people of all ages, is a spiritual care team. A spiritual care team has a group of people that they are assigned to look out for.

This can take many forms. At some churches, it might just be the pastor. It could be a team of elders or deacons. Or it could just look like church people looking after each other. This doesn’t always happen naturally, so it can be helpful to organize a team.

Often, it is more effective if other people from the church beyond the church leaders are involved, so that there are more people available for church members.

The groups that the team members should be carefully selected in prayer. Avoid putting all of the same age in one group, if possible. 

A simple way to begin after you assemble a team and assign the groups is to ask the team members to pray for their group of people and to contact them at a regular interval, whether that be once a month or once a quarter.

In terms of ministry to seniors, this can be a wonderful way to feel connected to others. Some seniors who are more isolated might enjoy the conversation. 

Often the needs of that senior will come up, and the team member can help with it if possible. The team member should feel free to contact the rest of the team for help with these needs.

Each spiritual care team member has their own gifts. For some, they might be faithful at praying but not as good at reaching out. 

Others are better at trimming a tree branch or bringing over a meal. Another might be a great listener or texter. Each of these types of team members are important for ministry to seniors.

This team can be a meaningful part of a ministry to senior adults.

Prayer Groups for Seniors / Prayer Team Member

Of the senior adults in your church, many have been Christians for an impressive amount of years. Some of them are faithful at praying for the prayer requests of others.  

Including these senior saints in your prayer groups is a wonderful way to use some of the gifts that seniors have to offer the congregation. 

ministry to seniors - praying hands in front of a church

As a way to include them, try to make sure that at least one of your prayer groups or prayer times is during a time where elderly people are willing to drive. Or, you can find them a ride to church.

Alternatively, for those who are homebound members, sending the prayer list through the mail (or possibly email for some) that you use at these events can be a way to not only help these seniors feel connected, but also to enrich the prayer life of your church.

These seniors can be part of your prayer ministry even if they aren’t able to get to church. Consider sending the prayer list in a larger font if you know that vision is an issue for the senior.

Traditional Worship Services / Bible Studies for Seniors

If your church only has one Sunday worship service, this may not work for your church.

But for those who have multiple services on Sunday mornings, the earliest service can be a great opportunity for a worship team to sing older songs. 

For some, this means only hymns, or for others, it’s the choruses popular in the 80s or 90s. Others might enjoy older Southern Gospel songs.

ministry to seniors - sheet music and books stacked against a wooden wall

Most of the other elements would stay the same, but might also include announcements of activities aimed at seniors.

If this isn’t an option, another idea is Bible study groups for seniors. It can be on a topic that touches on the concerns of older adults, but it doesn’t need to be. 

It can be scheduled at a time that is convenient for the seniors in your church, and be integrated into the small groups ministry of your church.

Often at least one person will be willing to lead worship, especially of older songs, so you might want to include this if possible.

These options might not connect them as much to the other parts of the body of Christ, but it can help them feel valued, and that their preferences are being addressed.

Sermon Phone Line

ministry to seniors - corded phone Bible sermon notes notebook and pen against wooden desktop

Many churches had to pivot into some forms of digital ministry in the early 2020s. This strengthening of the digital ministry through livestreams, podcasts, and more is an important component of reaching younger generations. 

But what about people without the internet, or who don’t feel comfortable with using the internet? Tape and CD ministries used to fill this need for church sermons, but most of that effort has shifted into the online space. 

Some older people turn to TV or radio preachers, but they can vary in quality and faithfulness to Biblical principles, and lack the connection with the local church.

One way to allow homebound members, or perhaps those who have moved away to be closer to family, is to have a recorded sermon line. 

Each week, you would take the .mp3 file of the sermon and upload it to the service. This is  something you might already have for the church podcast, or that you could easily save from your .mp4 file. 

One recommended service is Sermon by Phone It offers a low price for an included amount of minutes, with the ability to cap the amount you spend each month over that amount.

You work with the website to get a number local to your church (although the website says a toll-free number is available, most likely at a higher cost). Then spread the word to your church at large. 

People might want to tell their friends or their relatives who want to hear a sermon but find it difficult to attend church or use the internet. 

Toll charges will apply to callers out of the area, but many phone plans now have those calls included. 

This service allows you to do an automated announcement beforehand. It’s best to include the name of the speaker, the title of the sermon, and the length of the sermon. The sermon will play like a message that can’t be paused. If someone calls back, it will just start over again.

As the church adapts to new technology, it’s important to consider how to reach the people who might not be able to change. 

Being able to hear the sermon can be an important part of elderly church members still feeling connected to the church. This type of service is a great way to efficiently reach people who do not use the internet.

This can also be accompanied by sending the bulletin in the mail each week, so they can get an idea of what is happening beyond the worship service.

Senior Adult Activities

This is a broad term for social activities that will look different in every church. It can range from a monthly lunch to planned field trips to traveling together to interesting or religiously significant sites.

Sometimes these different activities for seniors can happen spontaneously, but if you need to help foster it, starting with a simple invitation to lunch after church can be a great way to start an informal gathering where seniors feel included.

Consider who you are inviting, and adjust the location based on that. Think about the cost, the wait, and the noise level.

A potluck can also be an effective way for seniors to feel included within the church family, or connected to other seniors.

Having a game day or game night can be a fun way to get to know other people from church in an informal setting. It could take place at church or someone’s house. Sometimes, seniors live in communities where they can reserve the clubhouse for free or a small fee; this can be a good option for this activity.

You also might look for existing events in the community that your senior members might find interesting. You might arrange transportation or agree to meet there. 

This could mean activities like health fairs, free concerts, events at the local senior citizen center, or the local county or state fair.

Volunteer Opportunities

Another ministry idea is including the older men and women of your church in volunteer opportunities.

Older members who aren’t able to volunteer as much as they used to might appreciate helping with service opportunities that are more in line with their current abilities. 

When planning special events, try to identify what volunteer positions might be ideal for an elderly volunteer. At a carnival type event, you wouldn’t ask them to run a game where they stand in the sun, or snow. 

But sitting down at the registration table, serving food, or handing out information as people leave might be the right volunteer position for these older persons.

You can also get their input about service projects, to find where they would like to participate.

Other Practical Considerations in Ministry to Seniors

We want to love and honor these seniors, and be part of God’s provision for them.

However, it isn’t possible to meet all the needs of any one person. It especially is difficult to do so when special skills are involved. It is OK to admit that the church may not be able to help with a need.

Whether you are a pastor, volunteer, or church member, you are usually not also a doctor, lawyer, psychologist, or home health care worker. You are also not a family member, like a spouse or one of their adult children, who can help make decisions for these seniors.

Sometimes the best way to minister to seniors in these situations is to help them find the right person to talk to about these problems that are beyond your expertise.

bible verses for seniors preview

We have a free printable to offer you as you plan and pray about your church’s ministry to seniors. Download these verses about seniors for free here

If you’d like to read more about what the Bible has to say about older people, visit this post about grandparents on our sister site, Hope Filled Faith.

Seniors play an important role in the church, and ministry to seniors should reflect that.

While it might not mean a dedicated senior adult ministry, it makes sure that senior members of the congregation feel like part of the church family.

Praying about intentional ministry to seniors and following through with concrete steps to include them in church life should be an important priority.

May the church bless these precious seniors, who are still fulfilling a vital role in the life of the church. 

If you liked reading Ministry to Seniors, you may also enjoy Printable ACTS Prayer Model and Prayer Points for Church Meetings.

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