Sunday, July 13, 2008

Seniors and Spirituality

People have their own opinion of religion and spirituality. As they age, their spiritual focus tends to change.

When they are young, they are busy living life; going to school, raising a family, working on their career. By the time people reach senior citizen status, they have usually determined what they believe.

Many churches not equipped. Pastors are finding they are not equipped to deal with the spiritual aspects of their aging population. Sure, some churches may have activities for seniors, maybe a bible study, bingo, or some other type of get together, but many struggle with such in-depth issues as death and dying or the end-of-life issues that are a growing concern to many. Most spiritual leaders lack training in the area of geriatrics.

Beginning steps. Churches moving toward services that are more contemporary sometimes throw in an occasional hymn to pacify the seniors, and larger churches may have a separate service for the more conservative attendee. However, for the most part these moves are cosmetic compared to the real needs of the older church population.

Better yet. The more progressive churches now provide transportation, listening aids for the hard of hearing, larger print for easier reading, and services broadcast on a local TV channel for those who are home bound.

As the baby boomer swell enters their early sixties, to stay relevant more churches will need to address the concerns of their aging population.

Baby boomers as a group tend toward independent thinking and activism. It will be interesting to see how the church handles its current senior population plus the growing number of aging boomers filling their pews every Sunday.

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