In a recent survey conducted by SAGA, respondents put the age at which someone in the UK is deemed to be old at 59, whereas in most other European Countries it’s the mid-60s. This seems to contradict what we hear so often that the new 40 is 60 and the new 50 is 70 and what we hear generally said in society. It would seem that in the underlying psyche of most people, the age-old myth is still being perpetuated – that by the time you reach 60 you are ‘past it.’ But surely not prevalent in the psyche of our church?
What are older people expected to do in the church? Pray, be tolerant, accept changes, stand down from the PCC, keep up with the young, make tea, don’t rock the boat, do flowers, don’t talk about the past, help with the crèche, ‘sit up shut up and pay up’, knit squares, dust, hand out books, run the Mother’s Union, organise the bazaar or jumble sale, mend the church furnishings, polish the brass, do maintenance, help in the church office – not with computers, but in sticking stamps on envelopes.
Older people if given the option would like to: Help others, share experiences, use talents, listen to older hymns, be loved, be recognised as part of the church family, be listened to, pray, be involved in decision-making, share more activities in the general church, be part of the visiting programme. Help the handicapped, be a granny/grandpa figure in the crèche, take part in hospital visiting, work with ‘Gideons’, prison work, be in a home group, take services in old peoples’ homes, counsel, teach, evangelise, help children in school, help with publicity, keep identity, have a clear ministry, share wisdom, have links with younger people, not clean brass, have a voice in things, lead worship sometimes, be part of a pastoral care team, be part of all events, have a prayer partner with a younger person, learn how to pray for each other.
WHAT DOES GOD SAY?
Those that are planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age; they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The LORD is upright; He is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in Him.” (Psalm 92 vv13-15)
Are our churches listening to Him?
Norman Critchell – Director, Outlook Trust www.outlook-trust.org.uk