By Michelle S. Lazurek, Crosswalk.com
Growing up, my grandmother played an integral role in my spiritual development. She was a devout Catholic who participated in many of the church’s activities. She went to confession, practiced communion, and participated in many church dinners. Not only was she a good example of someone who had a strong faith in God, but she also volunteered her time at the local hospital as a secretary. Because of her generous spirit, many people who knew and loved her commented on how much she gave of her time to others. Because of her good example, I now want to volunteer in my church as well. Although I'm not quite at age 50, I'm approaching an age that, now that my children are out of the home, gives me more time to volunteer my time to various activities.
I’m sure we can agree society is not kind to seniors. People approaching 50 may feel like society thinks their life is over. Yet their lives (and capacity to serve in various ministries within the local church body) are just beginning! Instead of resigning themselves to take less of a role in church ministry, women over 50 can engage in some great ministries that not only benefit them but the local body as a whole. Here are six church ministries women over 50 can serve:
1. Welcome Team
People who are new to a church can feel awkward about walking through the church doors for the first time. The first thing they want to see is a smiling face who welcomes them to their church, gives them a tour of the facilities, and answers any questions they have about where children should go to get a hot cup of coffee or how to approach the pastor. Women over 50 are perfect for this role, as the church is often an integral part of their weekly schedule growing up. People aged 50 and up belonged to a generation that put a strong emphasis on church attendance and participation. Women especially have a nurturing spirit and want to see people feel welcome and loved when they walk through the doors. Just being a smiling face and warm presence can be the deciding factor as to whether a couple or even young family make your church their permanent home.
2. Choir Member/Director
If God has gifted you with the gift of song, the choir might be a great place to spend your time. Attending choir practice once a week and performing for church on Sunday not only helps enrich people’s Sunday morning experience but also allows you to share your gift of singing with others. Not only this, but it also allows you to build camaraderie with people around you who also can sing. Members not only sing together for Sunday events, but they also may go to other churches to spread joy and organize other events to share their gifts with the community. They can organize Christmas caroling around the neighborhood or visit nursing homes for others who can't get out to a church service to sing the hymns they know and love. Choir members may also get together for dinners and other activities outside, which can make for a great time of fellowship.
Pastors are often swamped with many activities throughout the week. They are often tasked with responsibilities they simply cannot handle because they're more important priorities like preparing sermons, visiting congregation numbers, and organizing the Sunday church service. The church may be looking for someone with a gift of administration to help organize events the pastor cannot complete on his own. Approach the pastor and ask if he needs someone to do some menial tasks throughout the week. A volunteer doesn't have to be in the church office to help. There may be other things she could do from home from a computer or even run errands to give the pastor the extra time he needs to focus on the tasks only he can do. Even a simple task like folding bulletins or making copies can be a great help to a pastor swamped with too many tasks and not enough time.
In the current church model, church services are often timed to the minute. There is not always time within a church service or even afterward for people to feel welcome. The church may look for activities to help gather people in fellowship and allow them to simply enjoy each other 's company and get to know one another better. Hospitality can take on many forms, such as making meals for the sick or new parents or organizing potluck dinners and church picnics. Churches should make each person feel like they are part of a family. A person who organizes certain events that would help people use their gift of hospitality and feel welcome will make a great asset to any church body.
In the book of Joshua, it was Caleb who, at 80 years of age, didn’t let his age stop him from taking on extra challenges: “Now then, just as the Lord promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the wilderness. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day” (Joshua 14:10-12). While people 50 and older may be hesitant to want to join a Missions team for fear Missions may involve traveling to a foreign country, the right Missions coordinator can help people see that the mission field begins when they step outside their front door. Become aware of needs within the community that your church can meet. Organize a team to help meet those needs. Whether it's donating clothes to a clothes closet or donating food to a food pantry, there are many ways a person can volunteer to bring forth the mission of Christ to help those in need. In fact, volunteers older than 50 will be a good reminder that it's never too late to volunteer to accomplish the overall mission in God's Kingdom.
While youth may feel designated for people close in age to youth group members, people over 50 can bring unique gifts to the ministry. Not only can they teach kids good lessons based on their wisdom of the word of God, but they can also invest in the next generation. Older women can volunteer to participate in games and eat along with the kids to get to know them. Although teens may appear as though they can't relate to older volunteers, they need the older generation’s wisdom and discernment more now than ever. The more they interact with people of the older generation, the more they'll trust them. This will help them have someone they can go to if they need help in a situation or just need prayer. Older volunteers who help the youth demonstrate that not only do they care about the next generation, but the next generation will give them new life and vigor as well.
People who approach the age of 50 may think their next move is retirement. However, with more time to spare and the wisdom that comes from living life, women over 50 can contribute a great amount to the local church. In the end, it will also help meet their emotional needs, and they may be struggling to figure out what God's purpose is for them after they become empty nesters.
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Michelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Her new children’s book Who God Wants Me to Be encourages girls to discover God’s plan for their careers. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and her crazy dog. For more info, please visit her website www.michellelazurek.
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