Ministry to the elderly

I was at a seminar last Saturday on ministry among elderly people led by Roger Hitchings. He had lots of helpful things to say. Here are some of my notes from the seminar:
  1. The Bible says older people should serve (Ps 71:16-18; 92:12-15; Tit 2:1-6); be served (1 Tim 5:3, 11); be honoured (Lev 19:32; Prov 20:29).
  2. With people living longer we need to further distinguish between the young elderly (retired active); elderly (slowing down); old elderly (frail). We need different sort of ministry to different types of older people.
  3. There are more people in the UK over 65 than under 18. Perhaps senior’s workers are needed as well as children’s and youth workers.
  4. Old age is a time of loss – social, physical, personal. We need to think about needs in these three spheres.
  5. Old age is a time of fruitfulness – see Ps 92:12-15. How do we help to equip our elderly to bear fruit?
  6. Old age is a time to prepare. John Stott said “I knew I had to prepare for eternity but no-one told me I had to prepare for being old.” Spurgeon said “old age is the dressing room for eternity.” How do we teach our folk not only to prepare to die well, but to prepare to grow old well?
  7. The historical perspective on old age is different from the contemporary one. The Puritans particularly taught that old age was a blessing, a time of growth, and time of fruitful and wise ethical witness to the next generation. Are there ways we can encourage the elderly to serve in this way. Perhaps sharing at youth meetings, serving as wise counsel to pastors, training young couples?
  8. We must remind ourselves that being and identity is more important than capacity and function. Dignity is about being made in the image of God, not about ability to contribute or control bodily functions.
  9. We must remind ourselves that ‘independence’ is not a biblical category. The Trinity himself points to inter-dependence.
Much to chew on! Any ideas on how to minister well to our ‘elders’ much appreciated.