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Engaging Older Adults in Ministry Dr. Richard H. Gentzler, Jr. Center on Aging & Older Adult Ministries General Board of Discipleship | UMC PO Box 340003,

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Presentation on theme: "Engaging Older Adults in Ministry Dr. Richard H. Gentzler, Jr. Center on Aging & Older Adult Ministries General Board of Discipleship | UMC PO Box 340003,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Engaging Older Adults in Ministry Dr. Richard H. Gentzler, Jr. Center on Aging & Older Adult Ministries General Board of Discipleship | UMC PO Box , Nashville, TN Phone: Web:

2 GBOD Center on Aging & Older Adult Ministries ©GBOD - Richard H. Gentzler, Jr., DMin Transforming Our Congregations Involves…  Learning to appreciate the unique challenges of aging  Inviting older adults to remain a vital part of the church by making significant contributions to its ministry 2

3 GBOD Center on Aging & Older Adult Ministries ©GBOD - Richard H. Gentzler, Jr., DMin 3 Senior Adult Ministries  Our youth-oriented culture makes it difficult for us to appreciate the significance of older adults  With the average life expectancy close to 80 years, we must answer the question: What is the purpose of old age?

4 GBOD Center on Aging & Older Adult Ministries ©GBOD - Richard H. Gentzler, Jr., DMin 4 Why Senior Adult Ministries? The population of persons aged 65 and over increased from 3 million in 1900 to 35 million in 2000 and will reach 72 million by 2030

5 GBOD Center on Aging & Older Adult Ministries ©GBOD - Richard H. Gentzler, Jr., DMin 5 Number of Persons 65+ in the U.S.

6 GBOD Center on Aging & Older Adult Ministries ©GBOD - Richard H. Gentzler, Jr., DMin 6 Why Senior Adult Ministries? The percentage of older adults in the United States is increasing and older adults may soon outnumber both children and youth

7 GBOD Center on Aging & Older Adult Ministries ©GBOD - Richard H. Gentzler, Jr., DMin 7 Aging Population Trends – U.S.

8 GBOD Center on Aging & Older Adult Ministries ©GBOD - Richard H. Gentzler, Jr., DMin 8 Why Senior Adult Ministries? The average life expectancy increased from 48 years in 1909 to 78 years in 2009

9 GBOD Center on Aging & Older Adult Ministries ©GBOD - Richard H. Gentzler, Jr., DMin 9 Life Expectancy through the Ages Years of age

10 GBOD Center on Aging & Older Adult Ministries ©GBOD - Richard H. Gentzler, Jr., DMin 10 Why Senior Adult Ministries? Many faith communities are graying and the average age of our church members are older

11 GBOD Center on Aging & Older Adult Ministries ©GBOD - Richard H. Gentzler, Jr., DMin 11 An Aging Population Population aging is the result of 2 developments:  Lower Birth Rates  Longer Life Spans

12 GBOD Center on Aging & Older Adult Ministries ©GBOD - Richard H. Gentzler, Jr., DMin 12 Why Senior Adult Ministries? God loves older adults

13 GBOD Center on Aging & Older Adult Ministries ©GBOD - Richard H. Gentzler, Jr., DMin 13 “Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12

14 GBOD Center on Aging & Older Adult Ministries ©GBOD - Richard H. Gentzler, Jr., DMin 14 “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress.” James 1:27

15 GBOD Center on Aging & Older Adult Ministries ©GBOD - Richard H. Gentzler, Jr., DMin 15 Why Senior Adult Ministries? Aging is Changing

16 GBOD Center on Aging & Older Adult Ministries ©GBOD - Richard H. Gentzler, Jr., DMin 16 Today, people who are 65 are generally healthier, wealthier, and more active than was true of previous older adults.

17 GBOD Center on Aging & Older Adult Ministries ©GBOD - Richard H. Gentzler, Jr., DMin 17 New Aging Culture The new aging culture has replaced aging stereotypes of decline, disease, and dementia with empowering values of independence, activity, well-being, and service.

18 GBOD Center on Aging & Older Adult Ministries ©GBOD - Richard H. Gentzler, Jr., DMin 18 Phases of Retirement  Active Phase (Go-Go) Older adults pursue a variety of interests (e.g. volunteer, extensive travel, leisure activities)  Passive Phase (Slow-Go) Energy and health begin to ebb. Extensive travel replaced with shorter visits to family and friends.  Final Phase (No-Go) Health problems may restrict mobility and home health care services or alternative housing may be sought.

19 GBOD Center on Aging & Older Adult Ministries ©GBOD - Richard H. Gentzler, Jr., DMin 19 Designing Senior Adult Ministry  Step 1 – Establish a task force of 6 to 8 older adults  Step 2 – Conduct a survey of older adults in your church  Step 3 – Conduct a demographic and a service analysis of your community

20 GBOD Center on Aging & Older Adult Ministries ©GBOD - Richard H. Gentzler, Jr., DMin 20 Designing Senior Adult Ministry  Step 4 – Plan 2 high-visibility events targeted to older adults, both inside and outside the church  Step 5 – Survey the people who attended the event and plan a year ’ s activities

21 GBOD Center on Aging & Older Adult Ministries ©GBOD - Richard H. Gentzler, Jr., DMin 21 S.E.N.I.O.R.S. Ministry Spirituality Enrichment Nutrition/Fitness Intergenerational Outreach/Evangelism Recreational Service

22 GBOD Center on Aging & Older Adult Ministries ©GBOD - Richard H. Gentzler, Jr., DMin 22 S.E.N.I.O.R.S. Ministry Local Church Assessment S.E.N.I.O.R.S. Ministry Go – Go ’ sSlow - Go ’ sNo – Go ’ s Spirituality Enrichment Nutrition/Fitness Intergenerational Outreach Recreation Service

23 GBOD Center on Aging & Older Adult Ministries ©GBOD - Richard H. Gentzler, Jr., DMin 23 Congregational Senior Ministries  Advocate on behalf of older adults  Focus on the mission of the church  Identify needs/talents of seniors  Survey existing church ministries  Implement S.E.N.I.O.R.S. Ministry  Network with others

24 GBOD Center on Aging & Older Adult Ministries ©GBOD - Richard H. Gentzler, Jr., DMin 24 New Ministry Development WHAT 1. Idea List 2. Background 3. Proposal 4. Go/No Decision 5. Market Test 6. Go/No Decision 7. Implement HOW 1. Brainstorm 2. Select Project Advocate 3. 1-Page summary 4. Team Decision 5. Conduct live test 6. Check results 7. Full plan in place

25 GBOD Center on Aging & Older Adult Ministries ©GBOD - Richard H. Gentzler, Jr., DMin 25 Why New Ministries with Senior Adults Sometimes Fail  Failure to have the “right” people at the table when planning  Failure to have a shared vision  Failure to know the needs and talents of older adults

26 GBOD Center on Aging & Older Adult Ministries ©GBOD - Richard H. Gentzler, Jr., DMin Characteristics of “Successful” Senior Adult Ministries?

27 GBOD Center on Aging & Older Adult Ministries ©GBOD - Richard H. Gentzler, Jr., DMin Tips for Successful Ministry 1.Build on your strengths, not your weaknesses 2.Form a Group: Task Force, Team, Committee or Council 3.Follow your mission statement 4. Empower lay leadership teams

28 GBOD Center on Aging & Older Adult Ministries ©GBOD - Richard H. Gentzler, Jr., DMin Tips for Successful Ministry 5.Use lifestyles, not age, for intentional ministry 6.Develop various ministry options: one ministry-type does not meet all needs 7.Help older adults recapture a sense of purpose and meaning

29 GBOD Center on Aging & Older Adult Ministries ©GBOD - Richard H. Gentzler, Jr., DMin Tips for Successful Ministry 8.Foster intergenerational ministry and lifelong learning 9.Make your church facilities inviting and accessible 10.Consider the needs of older adults as you add church staff

30 GBOD Center on Aging & Older Adult Ministries ©GBOD - Richard H. Gentzler, Jr., DMin Selected Older Adult Ministry Resources 30

31 GBOD Center on Aging & Older Adult Ministries ©GBOD - Richard H. Gentzler, Jr., DMin 31 Want More Information? Or Contact Me At   Phone (Toll Free):  ext 7173  Direct: Website at

32 GBOD Center on Aging & Older Adult Ministries ©GBOD - Richard H. Gentzler, Jr., DMin 32 “So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to all the generations to come.” Psalm 71:18


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