48 Older Adult Ministry Ideas
by Richard H. Gentzler Jr.
As you plan for senior ministry, keep in mind that each older adult is an individual. One ministry idea won’t meet all needs. Be sure to identify needs and plan your ministry accordingly. Listed below are ministry ideas with older adults.
1. Adult Day Services
Develop a one-day or several-days a week Adult Day Care at your church for older adults who need specialized care for working caregivers.
2. Advertise in Local Theatre & Senior Citizen Center
Advertise your older adult ministry in the local theatre, Senior Citizen Center, local restaurants, and other places older adults congregate.
3. Annual Older Adult Picnic
Invite older adults from your church and community to participate in a summer picnic. Provide entertainment and games.
Older adults provide direct care for people having difficulty with activities of daily living (ADLs): walking, dressing, getting to/from bed, going shopping, and preparing meals.
5. Children of Aging Parents (COAP)
Provide support, networking opportunities, and resource information for adult children of aging parents. Companion Services: Older adults escort other older adults for visits to the doctor, dentist, pharmacy, grocery store, etc., helping them along the way.
6. Exercise and Fitness Classes
Older adults participate in “low impact” aerobics class, “Body Recall,” or some other form of exercise designed for older adults.
7. Field Trips
Older adults take educational and informational, recreational, mission study, or work mission trips.
8. Flowers for Homebound and Nursing Home Residents
Following worship services, altar flowers are taken to homebound and nursing home residents.
9. Foster Grandparents
Older adults share their lives with children and youth who have few or no extended family members living in the community.
10. Game Day
Once a week or monthly, hold a game day for older adults (include games that involve mental stimulation).
11. Helping Hands
Older adults maintain a church food and clothing pantry.
12. Home Maintenance and Minor Repair
Older adults with skills help others by painting, changing light bulbs, mowing lawns, home chores, carpentry, etc.
13. Homebound Sunday School Class
Homebound class members participate in Sunday school by use of a speaker phone.
14. Homebound Worship Participation
Homebound members read scripture, offer Morning Prayer, or participate in other liturgy acts by telephone hooked up to church sound system.
15. House Sharing
Older adults share housing with college students in exchange for chore service, minor home repair, cooking, and laundry, etc.
16. Intergenerational Retreat
Invite older adults and youth to participate in a retreat together. Plan for games, meals, Bible study, and sharing.
17. Kitchen Band
Invite older adults to make musical instruments from household and other common materials. Play at nursing homes (and other long-term health care settings), retirement communities, church functions, etc.
18. Latch Key Kid Ministry
Older adults provide after school program, including tutoring and mentoring opportunities for children.
19. Library: Resources on Aging Issues
Place in your church library older adult reading material, including audio and large print books.
20. Life Review
Older adults participate in life review and reminiscence classes.
21. Living History
Older adults share their life journey and faith story on tape (video and/or audio), in writing, and orally in worship and Sunday school class.
22. Lunch Partners
Invite older adults to eat a meal once a week with a homebound member in his/her home.
23. Marriage Enrichment
Older married couples lead and participate in marriage enrichment programs (both intragenerational and intergenerational).
Older adults provide meals for homebound, following hospitalization, participate in Meals-on-Wheels, group meal programs, etc.
Invite older adults to serve as mentors for children, youth, and other adults (e.g., youth during confirmation and for new church members).
26. Multigenerational Study Groups
Invite children, youth, and adults to study and learn together. This might include Bible topics and/or current events.
27. Mutt Ministry
Many older adults love dogs, cats, and other small animals yet are unable to care for them. This ministry shares the love of gentle animals.
28. Nursing Home Sunday School Class
Invite older adults to participate in a Sunday School class in nursing homes and Assisted Living settings.
29. Nursing Home VBS
Invite older adults to lead Vacation Bible School for residents in nursing homes and in Assisted Living settings.
30. Older Adult Choir
Invite older adults to form a choir. Sing at church, nursing homes, retirement communities, and for homebound. Plan special events such as Christmas caroling throughout the community.
31. Older Adult Newsletter
Create a newsletter especially for the older adults in your congregation. Invite older adults to submit articles and include announcements about meetings and events.
32. Parish Nurse Ministry
Provide a health care ministry for older adults.
Older adults participate in an “Elderhostel-type,” volunteer in mission program, including faith development and faith sharing (a program of the General Board of Global Ministries).
34. Recognition Service and Dinner
The congregation sponsors a special dinner, worship service, or other celebration to honor the faith, wisdom, ministry and service of older adults.
35. Ritual for Older Adults Moving from their Homes
Older adults visit with others moving from their home to long-term health care facilities. Share in prayer, scripture, song, Holy Communion, and words of remembrance and thanksgiving for the years spent in the home. Follow up in new home.
36. S.E.N.I.O.R.S. Ministry
Congregations involve older adults in spirituality, education, nutrition/fitness, intergenerational, outreach/mission, recreation, and service opportunities.
37. Senior Bulletin Board
Place a large bulletin board in a strategic location where older adults congregate in the church. Post announcements about events, job opportunities, and photos of recent activities and events on the bulletin board.
38. Senior Devotional Booklet
Invite older adults to compile a devotional book of scripture readings, meditations and prayers for congregational use.
39. Senior Yearbook
Invite older adults to create an annual yearbook, include photos and pictures of activities throughout the year.
40. Shepherd’s Center
Older adults participate in ecumenical ministry meeting needs: life maintenance, life enrichment, life reorganization, life transcendence.
41. Short Term Mission Service
Older adults participate in short-term mission projects (e.g., Habitat for Humanity and VIM).
42. Social Networking with Seniors
Start a blog, Facebook page, or other social networking activity with older adults.
43. Stephen Ministry
A specialized visitation program whereby older adults visit people who are ill, homebound, and institutionalized or have other needs.
44. Sunday Afternoon Worship for Homebound
Monthly, quarterly, or twice a year, conduct a special Sunday afternoon worship service (include Holy Communion), for homebound members in the church sanctuary.
45. Telephone Reassurance
Older adults make daily telephone calls to others.
46. Visitation Ministry
Older adults visit other older adults who are homebound, lonely, hospitalized, institutionalized, and dying.
47. Weekday Bible Study
Invite older adults in your church and from your community to participate in a weekday Bible Study (include refreshments, joys and concerns, singing and prayers).
48. Writing Letters and Sending Cards
Older adults write personal letters and send birthday, anniversary, and special remembrance cards to others.
Adapted from The Graying of the Church by Richard H. Gentzler, Jr. Nashville, TN: Discipleship Resources, 2004