Aging and Beneficial Purpose: A Roadmap
Article by Paul H. Irving
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” Millions of aging adults worldwide seek to remain active, contributing members of their communities and nations.”

-Paul H. Irving

Research shows that our population is aging; and with increased health and life expectancy, people continue to have an incredible amount to offer society as they get older. This is great news for our congregations! We have an incredible opportunity to invite our aging parishioners to continue to contribute to the mission of God, allowing them to have  more fulfilling lives because of their sense of purpose.

Sermons provide opportunities to highlight purpose-filled activities for aging adults and invite them to embrace  ministries they might have never considered. As pastors positively shape the narrative surrounding aging adults, they might find a place for them to share their stories or for younger adults to share how God is using them in their lives.

What to Consider

  • What stories can you tell that create a new, honoring narrative surrounding aging adults?
  • In what ways can passing on the Christian faith become a life-giving purpose for aging adults?
  • How can you involve different generations in your sermon/worship service so that space is created for children to learn from your aging members?

How to Go Deeper

  • Give out an annual Purpose Prize to honor aging adults who are exhibiting a life-giving purpose during their encore years.
  • Read Psalm 71:14-18. Invite three aging adults to share their testimonies about “the marvelous deeds of God” in their lives.
  • On Mother’s Day honor the aging women of the congregation. Read Exodus 20:12 and give each aging “faith mother” a token of your gratitude for the many ways they strengthen your community. Do the same on Father’s Day for aging men.

Relevant Scripture

All references in parenthesis refer to Lectionary readings. For more information on what the Lectionary is, please click here. For additional Lectionary resources click here.

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About the Author:

Zach is currently a PhD student at Fuller Theological Seminary researching the role of leaders in congregational change. His calling in life is to train and equip pastors to faithfully lead local congregations. When not studying, he'll most likely be watching Sporting Kansas City score goals or hiking with his wife and two kids.

7 Comments

  1. Weabz May 18, 2017 at 5:00 pm

    This is a topic that should be addressed so thank. Too often, regardless of “increased health and life expectancy”, are older mature believers simply dismissed or written-off. They have always and should always be looked to for both wisdom and teaching in the faith. Also, they need encouragement just like the rest of us. If only more young folks in the church would appreciate and respect the older generation of believers. .

  2. Weabz May 18, 2017 at 5:05 pm

    If your church struggles in honoring this group or generation, then maybe suggest or implement a dinner or potluck to specifically honor them and to begin the bridge to building relationship between the young and old. And from the relationships built and conversations started, then ministry involving them and mentorship and the like will more naturally flow. But the conversation and fellowship needs to be created.

  3. aidenkang May 20, 2017 at 10:13 pm

    Love the dea of giving out an annual Purpose Prize.

  4. aidenkang May 20, 2017 at 10:15 pm

    I think just being biblical in this area would go a long way in solving the issue of honoring our elders.

  5. JarrodCraw May 23, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    I agree – this is a generation that needs focus. Too many people think that they just ‘retire’ and then they’re ‘done.’ I don’t think there is a biblical idea of retirement from our service to the Lord. Great to see the support from extrabiblical sources supporting the idea – after all, some of the greatest heroes of the Bible were ‘elders.’

  6. matt@ncstudycenter.org June 1, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    I appreciate that this article highlights the dignity of aging/the elderly. Christ has conquered our fear of death and aging/death isn’t the ultimate robber of life that it is viewed as from a materialistic perspective (e.g. growing cryogenics movement and Google’s efforts to “solve death”)

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