From Nostalgia now to SMS

Still working with seniors!

What does SMS stand for? It is Seniors Mission Strategy. Does your parish have such a thing? Are we discipling seniors or treating them as the silent majority? Why aren’t 80 year-olds the best folk to reach other 80 year-olds? They have common experiences, just like the youth culture. There certainly is a senior culture.

With many people living longer and staying in their own homes rather than going into aged care facilities, we need to equip people to make contact with those who are supported by carers in their own homes. The main areas of concern are

  • Active retirement
  • People needing some assistance
  • The frail elderly.

We need to be aware of their needs and to ask them how they would like to spend their time. What do they want to do?

Many parishes are doing this already. But the government has also realised it is cheaper to keep seniors in their own homes.

Many people talk about pastoral care but there is a need for these people to hear the ‘peace’ of the gospel as they face death and reflect on their lives.

In his book Pioneering the Third Age: The Church in an Aging Population, Rob Merchant discusses ‘the need to recover the value of older age, seeking answers to spiritual quests and tackling the issues of older age and death. But few of these voices are located within the church and those that are find it difficult to bring this revolution onto the agendas of churches and leaders whose attention is focussed elsewhere. Though a significant number of older people attend a local church each week, there is little training, little teaching and little understanding regarding the needs in mission and discipleship for both current and future generations of people.’

At the Diocesan Training Day Colin Marshall stressed that we need to disciple in ‘life and death.’ We prepare people for baptism and marriage. Why don’t we do it for death – the Hope that we have in Jesus Christ?

As Billy Graham says:

‘All my life I was taught how to die as a Christian, but no one ever taught me how I ought to live in the years before I die. I wish they had.’ Nearing Home, by Billy Graham

I’ve had a sabbatical between Nostalgia Now and SMS to read scripture, pray, listen to others, and struggled myself. Could you pray for me as I begin this new ministry? I hope to do some more profiles of people for the Faithprints column and will share some resources for a Seniors Mission Strategy.

The best is yet to come in God’s plan!

Bruce Geeves


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