Reaping the Rewards of Senior Ministry -- By: Howard G. Hendricks

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 157:628 (Oct 2000)
Article: Reaping the Rewards of Senior Ministry
Author: Howard G. Hendricks

Reaping the Rewards of Senior Ministrya

Howard G. Hendricksb

When I was a young teen, churches paid scant attention to the youth culture. Aside from graded Sunday school classes, few people understood ministry in the sense of niche marketing. Today we have developed organizations to communicate the gospel to specific age-groups and interest groups. Yet one of the most neglected parts of our churches is the rapidly expanding number of seniors. J. Oswald Sanders comments insightfully, “Generally speaking the aged form the group least imaginatively catered for in the church’s programme. It should not be left to the sociologists and government to take the initiative.”1

Ted Engstrom launched a hard-hitting attack on America’s monomania with youth by saying, “To know how to grow old is the masterwork of wisdom and one of the most difficult chapters in the great art of living.”2

We are phobic, he said quite correctly, about growing old. We are afraid to approach our eighth or ninth decade because these years contain uncharted whitewaters, and the cruel caricature of old age in contemporary society adds to our fears. Most people picture the elderly as weak and inept.

Seniors come in three classifications: the movers, the shakers, and the quakers. The movers are vitally active—the go-go’s. The shakers are adapters—the slow-go’s. And the quakers are the overwhelmed—the no-go’s. All three will end up in your church. What a challenge from God! Older people—all of them—are po-

tential stockpiles of wisdom and productivity.

Mohandas Gandhi was seventy-two when he began leading India’s independence movement. Grandma Moses did her first painting at seventy-four. Kenyatta was over seventy when he became president of Kenya. Agatha Christie was still writing mystery novels when she died in her eighties. William Gladstone wrote his finest works in his sixties and seventies. George Mueller, Hudson Taylor, Lloyd George, Winston Churchill, and a host of others contributed creatively to their world in their later years. Visualize Michelangelo beginning his masterpiece on the ceiling in St. Peter’s at the age of seventy-six.

Possibly the best-kept secret in the ministry today is under the wraps of wrinkled skin and gray hair. The wise pastor understands that this treasure is often buried, like a gold mine or a vein of precious gems hidden in the earth. Programs that motivate youth and midlif...

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