According to the U. S. Census Bureau projections, the elderly population will more than double between now and the year 2050 in the United States. By that year, as many as one in five Americans could be senior adults. They cite two primary factors – longer life spans and aging baby boomers.
Growth in this group is expected to explode primarily between 2010 and 2030, the time when baby boomers reach 65 years of age. By 2030, older adults will account for roughly 20 percent of the U.S. population.
Those who are age 85 and over are the most rapidly growing age group among the elderly.
Between 1960 and 1994, their numbers rose 274 percent. By contrast, the elderly population in general rose 100 percent, and the entire U.S. population grew only 45 percent.
This basic information should get the attention of gospel-focused, Bible believing churches. Considering the large number of aging Americans, are we overlooking one of the greatest ministry opportunities in history? Are we sensitive to the needs of this growing segment of the population?
How is your church ministering to senior adults? How is your church involving older adults in the calling of the church? Senior adults are often the hidden treasure of the church. And some churches clearly prove they understand the great value of these seasoned servants, but many do not.
Some churches are responding to needs among the elderly. But most of our emphasis is on widow/widower care/ministry and fellowship events for seniors. Some churches operate nursing homes and other very effective ministries. All of these are necessary. They are very important expressions of biblical values.
However, many struggles of the elderly are not on the agendas of our church planning and strategy meetings. Those problems include hunger, medical care, handicaps, depression, loneliness, low income, homelessness, absence of fellowship and deteriorating living conditions.
Many seniors do not know Christ and are open to seeing the love of God through Christian relationships. They respond positively to genuine compassion.
I am thankful that GuideStone has a targeted ministry that provides additional income for elderly pastors or their widows.
Mission:Dignity is an incredible ministry that lives out biblical principles to some very special seniors. Baptists should give wholehearted support to Mission:Dignity (MissionDignity.org).
I am thankful the Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina expanded its ministry beyond children with the launch of North Carolina Baptist Aging Ministry (NCBAM) eight years ago. They are serving seniors and local churches through outstanding ministry to the growing number of American senior adults. N.C. Baptists are wise to use NCBAM’s resources in our churches (NCBAM.org).
But there is a big hole in senior adult ministry that a Biblical Recorder story calls to the attention of Baptists.
Sadly, very few, if any, churches have an intentional ministry to grandparents who have returned to the role of being a parent again.
Please read guest writer Denise George’s article, “Growing number of grandparents become parents again,” on page six of the latest print issue. Have we noticed the increasing number of grandparents who were forced to assume a parenting role again? They are now raising their grandchildren because of a crisis in their child’s life.
George exposes the problem and offers resources for churches that are willing to confront the needs of the 98,676 grandparents in North Carolina who are rearing their grandchildren.
Maybe you have not met them yet, but they live in your community. And they need a lot of help shaping the lives of the children Jesus loves.
Seth Brown, content editor for the Biblical Recorder, recently returned from a mission trip to Asia. He was invited to join a team from Corinth Baptist Church in Elizabeth City, N.C. Through the church’s long-term partnership with Calvary Baptist Church in Bangkok, Thailand, the team ministered to Pakistani refugees, organized a Vacation Bible School, taught GED classes and encouraged missionaries on the international field. Corinth has witnessed the plight of asylum seekers in Thailand for years, and served them well, alongside Calvary’s refugee ministry team. This year, however, they were compelled to bring a reporter along with the team so more Baptists could know the stories of Pakistani Christians fleeing violence.
The first of a three-part series on the refugee ministry appears on the front page of the latest edition. Watch for more articles in the series, plus feature stories on specific aspects of the healthy partnership between Corinth in North Carolina and Calvary in Bangkok.