An effective coordinator will work with church and community leaders of all ages to address the needs and opportunities for older adults to grow as Christian disciples. Older-adult ministry shall be for, with, and by older adults. Older adults in the congregation and community will grow in faith as Christian disciples.
Spiritual Gifts and Qualifications Helpful for the Job
- The older-adult ministries coordinator benefits from having one or more of these spiritual gifts: servanthood, teaching, exhortation (encouragement), leadership, administration, helping, and shepherding. This leader should show evidence of passion for older-adult ministry, prior effective ministry leadership, and active and growing discipleship.
- Useful skills for this position are the ability to listen to and communicate with people of all ages and the ability to work with other ministry leaders, delegate responsibility, and follow up to complete tasks.
- This leader should show genuine interest in responding to the hopes and concerns of older adults in the community and congregation.
Responsibilities of the Position
- The coordinator of older-adult ministry will be attentive to the hopes, concerns, and needs of older adults in the community to determine how the congregation might serve them and how they might serve one another as Christian disciples and good neighbors.
- This leader will identify key people in the congregation and community for collaboration and expansion of opportunities.
- The coordinator needs to be familiar with the congregation’s overall goals and how they are achieved through the congregation’s ministry with older adults.
- This leader will advocate that older adults are welcome and expected to be vital participants in all aspects of the ministry of the congregation. The coordinator will raise congregational awareness of the needs and contributions of older adults in the community and the world.
- The coordinator will work with others to plan and carry out ministry with older adults in a varied and wide-ranging program that includes worship, study, fellowship, service opportunities, and more.
- The coordinator will promote understanding of Christian vocation in daily life as a response to God’s call to ministry for all Christians.
- The coordinator intentionally communicates with organizations, people, and resources in the community that relate to older adults and seeks to connect the congregation with the community.
- The coordinator will guide the work of the older-adult council (if organized) throughout the year, including planning its agendas and presiding at its meetings.
- The coordinator will work with other leaders to learn about curriculum and other resources available for older adults in order to help teachers and group leaders select appropriate resources for study and growth.
- The coordinator is accountable to the charge conference through the church council.
- Learn about the issues and opportunities for older adults in your community. It is not necessary to duplicate or copy other programs, but seek to identify gaps where your congregation can lead the way in making a positive difference in the lives of older adults.
- Soon after you are elected, convene the older-adult council (if organized) to evaluate older-adult ministry, share hopes and concerns, and plan for your work. Or ask a group of interested older adults to help you plan. Build networks with older adults and with others who offer opportunities for older adults. Share the ministry with others by delegating projects to people in the church or community who have similar interests.
- Study Guidelines for Leading Your Congregation, 2017-2020: Adult Ministries. Sign up for the SAGE newsletter.
People and Agencies That Can Help
- Your pastor, active laypeople in your congregation, people who live in your community and district, conference leaders of older-adult ministries, and leaders in other congregations. As you travel, visit other congregations to observe older-adult ministry opportunities.
- Will Randolph, wrandolph@UMCdiscipleship.org, Office of Aging and Older Adult Ministries, Discipleship Ministries, P.O. Box 340003, Nashville, TN 37203-0003; http://www.umcdiscipleship.org/leadership-resources/older-adults
- InfoServ, the information service for the church, provides current information about United Methodist resources, programs, and staff services. Email: email@example.com; Website: infoserv.umc.org.
Web and Print Resources
- Aging and Ministry in the 21st Century: An Inquiry Approach by Richard H. Gentzler, Jr. (Nashville: Discipleship Resources, 2008)
- Aging Faithfully by Missy Buchanan (Upper Room Books, 2011)
- At the Edge of Life: Conversations When Death is Near by Richard L. Morgan (Upper Room Books, 2014)
- Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, 2016 (Nashville: The United Methodist Publishing House, 2016)
- Designing an Older Adult Ministry by Richard H. Gentzler, Jr. (Nashville: Discipleship Resources, 1999)
- Guidelines for Leading Your Congregation, 2017-2020: Adult Ministries (Cokesbury, 2016)
- In Ministry with Boomers and Beyond: Leader’s Guide for Aging and Ministry in the 21st Century (Nashville: Discipleship Resources)
- Interpreter, www.interpretermagazine.org
- Lay Pastoral Care Giving by Timothy M. Farabaugh (Nashville: Discipleship Resources, 2009)
- New Beginnings: The Gifts of Aging (DVD) by Richard H Gentzler, Jr. (Nashville: Discipleship Resources, 2005)
- No Act of Love Is Ever Wasted: The Spirituality of Caring for Persons with Dementia by Jane Marie Thibault and Richard L. Morgan (Nashville: Upper Room Books, 2009)
- Safe Sanctuaries: The Church Responds to Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation of Older Adults by Joy Thornburg Melton (Nashville: Discipleship Resources, 2012)
- The SAGE, a newsletter for leaders of older-adult ministries published by the Office on Aging & Older-Adult Ministries, Discipleship Ministries, PO Box 340003, Nashville, TN 37203-0003; (877) 899-2780 ext. 7177.
- Shaping a Life of Significance for Retirement by R. Jack Hansen and Jerry P. Haas (Nashville: Upper Room Books, 2010)
- More resources available in The Upper Room online bookstore.