Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Reflections

I thought I might share a few Christmas reflections in the coming days, recycling some articles from previous years that I've written for our church's monthly senior adult newsletter entitled "Joyful Tidings."  That seems like a pretty fitting name for Christmas news if we think about the angels' message to the shepherds.  I haven't shared these on this blog, so hopefully they will spark some interest.  This first piece dates way back to 2005.

I was reading recently in the Word and Way a devotional thought by Rudy Pulido, a pastor in the St. Louis area, about a memorable Christmas when he received a bicycle as a gift. It stirred my memories to a Christmas long ago when I too received my first bicycle, a Schwinn. My family was living on my grandparents’ ranch in South Texas at the time, and the mailbox was located almost three miles away over a dirt road. While my granddad usually drove up to the mailbox each day in his pickup to get the day’s mail, on occasion I would volunteer to ride my bike there and bring the mail back. That was quite an adventure for a second grader.

What was your favorite or most treasured Christmas gift as a child? For many of our senior adults, your childhood years were spent in the Great Depression and undoubtedly gifts were scarce at times. Perhaps your parents wanted to give you what you were most hoping to receive at Christmas, but the funds simply weren’t there to do so.

At this season of the year we celebrate the fact that God gave us the most valuable and costly gift that any of us could ever receive—the gift of eternal life through the entrance of Jesus into this world. God sent His Son, and Jesus willingly came, knowing that it would ultimately cost Him His very life to bring us salvation and forgiveness. In the midst of giving and receiving gifts, let’s remember and say thanks to God for His indescribable gift of love, born in a humble manger.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Senior Adult Ministry Conference

I enjoyed the opportunity this past week of spending three days in Anaheim, California at a conference focusing on senior adult ministry.  I found it both inspirational and informative.  Much of the content focused on the theme of intergenerational ministry, and a related theme was the need to minister through seniors and not merely to them.  We heard some eye-opening statistics about the aging population of the U.S. and the challenges and opportunities that this reality affords to our churches.  One of the most encouraging things was the passion with which the presenters and the participants spoke of the urgent need to reach senior adults with the gospel--not assuming that this sector of the population has already been adequately evangelized.

I'm still processing and sorting through the stack of notes I took from the plenary sessions and workshops that were offered, but one thing is readily apparent--a once-size fits all approach to ministry with maturing adults simply won't cut it any longer if it ever really did.  There's far too much diversity in interests, backgrounds, and experiences in this burgeoning slice of the population as the first baby boomers reach 65 this year for a single model or approach to ministry with them to do the job.  I'm meeting tomorrow with some peers in the area to discuss a Planned Aging conference that our 4 churches will be sponsoring next June, and also to talk about some of the nuts and bolts of senior adult ministry.  We'll be joined by Frank Fain of The Baptist Home, a recognized authority in this field.  It promises to be a great meeting.