Don’t Stereotype the Senior Adults In Your Church (Two Surprising Things I Heard)

Hermes Rivera
Hermes Rivera

This past weekend I was at a Senior Adult Fish Fry for my church (yes, while not technically trans-fat or gluten free, those catfish and hush puppies tasted sooooo good). The talk amongst the crowd went about as you might expect. It was a Saturday so most of the talk was about the college football games currently going on. But I had two conversations with some senior adults that surprised me and reminded me never to stereotype the senior adults in our churched.

The first was with a senior adult guest who had come to the fish fry but hadn’t attended our church yet. She is 89 and her friend’s been working on her for awhile to come. This friend was quick to introduce me, hoping that a conversation with the pastor could make some more inroads. As the conversation developed, I began to explain the types of worship services we have on Sundays, two contemporary and one more traditional. Obviously I emphasized the traditional worship service as a style she might enjoy the most. Her response? “I like loud music.” I stood corrected!

The second conversation I had was with a man in his 70s that had started coming to our church within the past month or so with his wife. We hadn’t had a chance to talk much so he wanted to get to know me a little bit. As he was talking about what he appreciated about our church, he said there was one thing he appreciated the most about our church, the one thing that sealed the deal and helped him decide to make this his home church. He said, “I love seeing the kids have a good time at church.”

Those two statements from those two conversations with those two senior adults reminded me not to stereotype a generation, as easy as that might be sometimes. I tried to steer a guest towards the style of music I though she’d prefer, but she said she liked loud music that blew her hair back a little bit. You’d be surprised at the number of senior adults who have told me over the years that they enjoy the newer contemporary music because the older stuff is too worn out for them.

And for this new senior adult couple, our greatest selling point (coming I assume from a church that catered towards senior adults but didn’t have a thriving children’s ministry, which is typical for this part of the country) was a vibrant children’s ministry where kids love it so much they drag their parents every week. He saw incredible value in seeing the next generation smile while growing in their faith every week, even more so than any programs that might be targeted towards him.

Senior adults are not all cut from the same mold, and if you get to know them, they just might surprise you.

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