Home Equipping Leaders Older Adults New Online Teaching Series! The Church’s Ministry with Dementia

New Online Teaching Series! The Church’s Ministry with Dementia

By Scott Hughes

UPDATE: Enrollment for this course is now closed.

Article ministry with dementia

Engaging those living with dementia and their caregivers

Discipleship Ministries is excited to announce the upcoming launch of a new course for local church leaders: The Church’s Ministry with Dementia, a new hybrid-model teaching series designed to help churches see and engage with those living with dementia and other vulnerable adults.

What to Expect:

In this three-month online cohort, you will read the book Ministry with the Forgotten: Dementia through a Spiritual Lens. Be sure to take advantage of Cokesbury's discounted pricing and purchase your copy before you start the course. Click here to get your copy!

Participants will have the opportunity to engage in reflective questions and journal their reflections about ministry with those who are living with dementia and their caregivers.

Additionally, we’re excited that retired Bishop Ken Carder has agreed to participate in three live webinars to answer participants’ questions and offer reflections. Through this course, participants will also get to hear how other churches are wrestling with the opportunities and challenges of being in ministry with those living with dementia.

Dive Deeper:

The list of ministry opportunities can seem overwhelming: There is worship on Sunday that requires a sermon, liturgy, and music; then there are administrative tasks and meetings; then there are children’s and youth ministries, community engagements, and a sermon to write. Parishioners stop by for counseling and consolation. And let’s not forget about hospital visits, small groups and Bible studies, another sermon to write, and then visiting the homebound. When we can’t seem to fit it all in, what gets dropped? It’s not likely to be the sermon or administrative tasks. In many churches, what gets dropped is visiting the homebound. Whose job is this anyway? Is it the pastor’s responsibility? Is it the congregation’s responsibility? Or does it belong to both?

In no way is this series meant to cause guilt or shame. Perhaps what is needed is reframing of the homebound ministry—reframing it so that instead of its being on the periphery, it is seen as an integral part of the discipleship of the whole church.

Bishop ken carder headshot
Retired Bishop Ken Carder

We’re excited to partner with Bishop Carder to present this new cohort learning opportunity based on Bishop Carder’s book, Ministry with the Forgotten: Dementia through a Spiritual Lens. More than just about dementia—though it certainly is beneficial for that—this book and this eLearning course will center on helping churches see the discipleship opportunities and challenges that come with ministry with those who are often unseen and forgotten.

For Bishop Carder, this is more than an invitation to do ministry in a new way (and more faithfully). This is an experience he has lived out. As he gives witness in his book:

“Dementia has changed the way Linda and I live our discipleship and vocations, but it has not diminished our participation in the triune God’s dance of love. In many ways, our participation in God’s love and mission has become more holistic as we have been challenged beyond the idolatry of abstract creedal formulations, excessive individualism, and perceived autonomy. We have come to an experiential discipleship and vocation motivated and formed by love lived in community and expressed in simple acts of compassion, caring, and presence” (99).

Some of the main outcomes for this course will include:

  • A basic understanding of dementia and its prevalence.
  • An ability to reflect on dementia as a theological challenge and opportunity.
  • An understanding of the relationship between Incarnation and the ministry of presence.
  • Sensitivity to seeing God incarnate in those with dementia.
  • Insight and tools for entering the world of people with dementia.
  • An understanding of Christian discipleship as being more than believing.
  • Identification of contributions the church can make to people affected by dementia and gifts people with dementia can provide the church.
  • Care for those who look after those living with dementia

Scott Hughes is the Executive Director of Congregational Vitality & Intentional Discipleship, Elder in the North Georgia Conference, M.Div. Asbury Theological Seminary, D. Min. Southern Methodist University, co-host of the Small Groups in the Wesleyan Way podcast, creator of the Courageous Conversations project, and facilitator of the How to Start Small Groups teaching series.

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