Faith Communities Today
New Fact Information
Senior Citizen Programs
Ministries or community services designed specifically for senior citizens are half as likely to be found in Seventh-day Adventist churches as in congregations of all faiths across America. One in five Adventist churches report having some type of senior citizen program for their own members or people in the community during the last year. Nearly twice as many (39%) of all religious groups give the same response.
The population over 65 years of age is the fastest-growing segment of America today. This growth is projected to continue for the rest of the century as more people live longer lives due to improvements in nutrition, wellness and medicine.
This trend is accelerated as the Baby Boom generation moves into its older years. This year (2006) the first Baby Boomers turn 60 and such perennially youthful icons as Mick Jagger are already senior citizens. There is every indication that, just as they have done at every other stage of life, this generation will redefine old age and retirement.
Why aren’t Adventist congregations more responsive to the needs of older members? The truth is that most of them are, they just don’t do it by having special programs labeled for “senior citizens.” In fact, many under-30 church members will tell you that their local Adventist church is a senior citizens ministry! The median age for Adventists in the U.S. is now over 50; and it may be true (there is no direct data available) that in a third to a half of Adventist congregations, the majority of the members are over 65.
If congregations were to create community ministries specifically targeting the needs of senior citizens, there is evidence that there will a corresponding increase in church growth. Community services for seniors are one of the items that have a strong correlation with growth in Adventist churches. (See Chapter 2 in Adventist Congregations Today.)
1. Does our congregation provide senior citizen programs for our own members or for people in the community?
2. What percentage of our members are over 65 years of age? How does that compare to the percentage in our community?
3. Is this a type of ministry that we should explore for the future?
4. Should we appoint an individual or a small planning group to generate a plan and report back to us?
Order the Adventist Congregations Today book and CD-R and learn more about the Faith Communities Today (FACT) research.
Paul RichardsonCenter for Creative Ministry
Creative Pastor e-Newsletter, May 3, 2006, Center for Creative Ministry