Five Things I Pray I Will Not Do as a Senior Adult in the Church

I received my first AARP material in the mail six years ago.

I turned 61 years old two days ago. One of my sons says I am fossilized.

I am a senior adult.

Have I noticed any differences in my life at this age? Certainly. I move more slowly. My idea of a mini-marathon is running to the kitchen from the family room. I see things differently. I don’t know if I am wiser, but I certainly have different perspectives.

And I have to admit I view church life differently. In fact, I sometimes scare myself with my rigid attitude. I need to write these words quickly lest I become too comfortable or too complacent.

I have five specific prayers. They are for me. They are for my attitude about my church. They are reminders I will need to review constantly.

  1. I pray I will not feel entitled because I am a key financial supporter in the church. This attitude means I consider the money my money rather than God’s money. That means I am giving with a begrudging heart.
  2. I pray I will not say “I’ve done my time” in the church. Ministry through the local church is not doing your time, like serving a prison sentence. It is an outpouring of joy and thanksgiving to God. I love those churches where senior adults are the most represented among the nursery workers. I need to be among them.
  3. I pray I will not be more enthused about recreational trips than ministry and service. There is nothing wrong about me getting on a bus and going to Branson, Missouri, or Gatlinburg, Tennessee. But there is something wrong when that is my dominant involvement in ministry in the church.
  4. I pray I will not be more concerned about my preferences than serving others. I’ve already blown it on this one. I did not like the volume of the music in the service at my church a few weeks ago. I complained about it to my wife. And then I was reminded of all the young people in the church that Sunday worshipping and praising God during the music. I was more concerned about my preference than seeing others worship God.
  5. I pray I will not have a critical spirit. I attended a business meeting of a large church some time ago. The total attendance at the meeting represented fewer than five percent of the worship attendance. One of the men who recognized me approached me before the meeting, “We come together at these business meetings to keep the pastor straight,” he told me. In reality, they came together to criticize the pastor and staff. I pray I will not become a perpetual critic. I don’t want to grow old and cranky; I want to grow old and more sanctified.

Now that I am a senior adult in my own right, I need to make certain I am not a stumbling block or a hindrance to health and growth in my church. I pray my attitude will be like that of Caleb:

“Here I am today, 85 years old . . . Now give me the hill country the Lord promised me on that day . . . Perhaps the Lord will be with me and I will drive them out as the Lord promised” (Joshua14:10-12, HCSB).

May the Lord grant me wisdom and service all the days of my life, including my senior years.

Let me hear from you. I bet I will.

Posted on July 18, 2016

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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  • Nick Stuart says on

    On the subject of music, the company I work for requires workers to wear hearing protection when the sound pressure level is in excess of 85 db. Chances are pretty good your church’s worship team has the sound level up anywhere from a little to a lot higher than that, for a number of years it was that way at my church. You might want to inquire if anyone has ever actually taken a sound pressure meter and studied the sound levels at various parts of the auditorium. I suspect nobody really wants to know.

    • Thanks for bringing that up. Some time ago I asked a couple of questions on one of Dr. Rainer’s blogs: (1) Are senior adults really being unreasonable when they request you to do a few songs they like? (2) Is it really too much to ask that you lower the volume just a bit? This latter issue is personal for me. My wife has sensitive ears because of some health issues, and loud noises are very painful to her.

      I only received one response to my questions. The person made a couple of flimsy excuses as to why his church can only do contemporary music and why they must keep the volume so high. However, he said they do show some consideration for people that can’t take the loudness: they offer them ear plugs.

      Have churches really gotten this selfish?

  • Rich McLawhorn says on

    I agree with all five, and have already adopted them.
    I will add a #6 that I also adopted since you mention the AARP. My #6 = I will not accept an AARP card, and will not join the AARP. Why? Because the AARP supports the homosexual agenda, abortion rights, and other positions that are contrary to God’s Word.

  • Kyle Noffsinger says on

    Hello Thom, thank you so much for your blogs. I refer to them often and on occasion share some during our Wednesday evening services. I think it’s been awhile since a blog has gotten this much discussion – a testament to just how real this struggle is for young pastors (34) like myself. Keep writing – I’ll keep reading.

  • Rita Sports says on

    I cannot comprehend how quickly the years have slipped up on me. At the age of 67, I honestly have to say that I do not feel one tiny bit different than I did at 21. I know I am blessed to be in good health and have most of my facilities functioning. In saying this, I am trying to reflect on how my Christian walk has progressed as the years passed. I feel that my faith and my works must go hand in hand. I’ve done a lot, but never, in my opinion, enough to serve my Lord and Saviour. I’ve taught Bible studies, Sunday school, etc. I know in teaching you learn more than being a student. I’ve worked whenever and wherever I’ve seen the need. Just last week I enjoyed Vacation Bible School maybe more than some of the kids did. As long as the Lord allows, I will serve Him with a loving and cheerful spirit.
    Life sends difficult times and hardships our way. God didn’t promise that His children wouldn’t have those days but He did promise that He would be with us through the trials. Recently, we lost our daughter to Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Her twins were nine years old when she was called home. Without my God, I know I could not have survived losing my only child. I don’t know what people do when they don’t have that relationship He freely gives to us. He provided the network of my church family to sustain me in those dark days. I lost both of my parents also…all within three months. In telling this, my point is that I do believe that God wants our involvement in a church, not just to worship and serve Him but to be a part of His kingdom. We are blessed to be a part of His church. A church that serves wholeheartedly. A loving church. A supportive church. I am blessed. I do believe that God put me where He planted me because, of course, He knew everything we would experience in this life. I want my life to be a testimony to Him and to serve Him until that moment I see Him face to face.

  • Pastor Thom,
    This is really, really good stuff.
    My mom passed away in 2011, I called her pastor friend that she had been serving with to tell him. He said to me that he wished every senior had the same mindset as my mom. She was very active in prison ministry, after-school Bible clubs in poor areas of the city, she did block parties, Vacation Bible School at several churches, had designed curriculum to help children learn Scripture faster and easier, and so much more.
    My mom had two Master’s degrees and at age 55 felt she didn’t have enough tools to do all the ministry she wanted to do and so she went to clown school to learn to be a professional clown learning to tie balloon animals, do magic tricks, and tell funny jokes.
    When she was 69, she was asked to come and homeschool seventeen children in Turkey where their missionary parents were in conference. At age 70, she went to China four times in two years to teach English to the professors at the University, but was also there as a covert missionary. She left my dad at home every time. He had no interest in doing all of those things and he was happy to support her in her desire to serve the Lord.
    I share my mom’s legacy with you so that you know that I have a very good example of how God can use people of any age if they are just willing and available.
    One would think that my mom was in good health to do all these things, but she really wasn’t. She had diabetes, high blood pressure, trouble with her feet and walking, and come to find out the day she died, it was amazing her heart had not exploded it was so weak. I say that to say, it just shows that when you really want to do something you will make a way. My mom did the VERY best she could with all her heart and all her strength to serve the Lord.
    As she was rolled to surgery on the day she died, she told the attendant, “No matter what happens, either way, I win.” We know that she did win that day and that she served Jesus to the very end of her life. What a legacy!

  • Our church full of seniors has joined with a church full of millennials. Our young pastor is right on scriptually and we have babies all over the place again. We just renewed our church membership and were expected to read I Am A Church Member before signing a statement of faith. Once I read it I realized why our pastor speaks so much about “preferences”. And…here it is again. I feel a bit pummeled by it. He is learning to be a good shepherd and we are hopefully learning to be good sheep. Just a thought, maybe you both could find a new word.

  • Very good advice! #5 nailed it! Gods blessings to you!

  • Those are all great points. One thing I missed in all the comments (and there may be some I missed) was the guidance of the Holy Spirit. He doesn’t lead us in different directions. Are we truly doing as we are being led, or doing what suits us. The Word of God is what sustains a church, old, young, and in between. A true Christian heart is a servants heart. We have to ask ourselves if we are exalting others above ourselves, preaching the Word of God, spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. If that is happening, all that other stuff works its way out.

  • Technically I’m a Senior too at age 66. I think like so much this is a two-way street. We live in a culture that glorifies the under 30 crowd. In a month I go on a mission trip. I’m a recruiter for my agency. One of my recruits is 73 years young. I have a brother in my church, age 95. He leads a prayer group in our church and a Seniors Bible study in his apartment. He is my big brother. I want finish as strong as he is. Seniors have something very much appreciated in non-Western cultures. It’s called life experience.

  • It’s apparent there is a lack of discipleship and evangelism on both sides of the aisle.

  • Lack of discipleship and evangelism is at the heart of this issue on both sides of the isle.

  • Great post that needed to be shared. Brutally honest, but timely. Over the years I have met countless Sr. adults who were wonderful models of grace, love, and wisdom. But I have also encountered my share of those who fit your description of what you hope to never become. The latter group has always contained those who were my harshest critics and were adamantly against anything that remotely resembled change or would move the church forward to reach the next generation for Christ. Pray for them, love them, be patient with them, and honor their years of commitment to the church. I am often out of ideas as to how best to deal with such folks.

    I have often seen an “us and them” mentality between Sr. adults and younger church members which often leads to blow-ups and division. if the church is growing, let them know they are still a part and try to get them on board with the vision. Then pray without ceasing.

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