Helping the Elderly Endure and Enjoy the Worship Service

Updated on September 11, 2019
MsDora profile image

MsDora, former teacher and counselor, is fascinated by the prospect of joyful aging. She explores and shares habits of happy seniors.

By comparison with the great effort to make the church service attractive for young people, there is minimal effort in some churches to make the service comfortable for the older folk.

Some seniors have participated in, and contributed to the church service regularly for more than fifty years. For them, the worship service is to their weekly schedule what the breakfast is to their daily routine. They will attend for as long as they are able, and they deserve the utmost respect and appreciation. Only when their eulogy is read will some of the younger members realize the extent of the old folks’ contribution to the congregation, and by then, it will be too late for the honorees to hear the applause.

Pexels. Text added.
Pexels. Text added. | Source

Following are some suggestions for showing honor to the older members while helping them to endure and enjoy the worship service. “Endure” for those who have chronic pain which makes them uncomfortable away from the accommodations they have at home. “Enjoy” for all of them because the fellowship validates their happiness to belong. Every church may not render all these possibilities, but the seniors will appreciate any effort put forth in their interest. We begin outside the building.

1. Church Bus

For those who do not drive, and do not have friends or relatives available to drive them, being picked up by a comfortable church bus with a senior-friendly driver will relieve the stress of arranging a ride. The experience of meeting, greeting and riding along with their peers after a week’s separation may be the exciting start to another day of worship.

2. Reserved Parking

The seniors who still drive will welcome reserved parking near the entrance to the building. They do not all rush for handicapped stickers, although on some Lord’s Day morning, they may have aching knees. And even without the aches, most of them no longer desire to stride the width of the parking lot for the purpose of displaying new fashion accessories.

3. Seating

In one specific church (there may be others), the older members are issued fans as soon as they enter and are ushered near the front to facilitate their decreasing sight and hearing. Through a nearby side door, they have easy access to the restrooms without traveling the length of the church aisle.

4. Restroom

Easy Comforts
Easy Comforts | Source

For many, the ability to bend without aggravating their knee pain is limited. Raised toilet seats would be a welcome accommodation. They may even be content with one unisex restroom, if they comprise a small population.

5. Inclusion

Young church leaders are focused on recruiting new members and keeping up with contemporary worship styles. Young choristers sing songs which are unfamiliar to the older folk. Young presenters talk media language and display graphs to which seniors cannot relate. Subtly and gradually, the older folks are being left behind. They would feel included if their presence is recognized, if some of the old hymns are sung just for them, if presenters would add a short illustration to which they could relate, if they could be asked to offer the prayer or to participate in any other way. When they are no longer able to participate upfront, let their wisdom be sought and acknowledged by church officers and members who visit them at home.

6. Special Days

The nearer the elderly get to the end of their life’s journey, the more significant the celebration of life’s milestones becomes. Recognition of their birthdays and anniversaries heighten their sense of gratitude to God, and what better time and place to mention their achievement than in the worship service. Just a short reference during the welcome, or a note in the bulletin, or a flash on the big screen will remind them that their church family shares their joy.

7. Sermon

Since the sermon is the main feature of the service, and usually what the seniors anticipate most, they may assess their total spiritual and emotional experience by the way they feel during that time. If the sermon is so long that diabetics begin to crave something to eat, or seniors with other conditions begin to count the minutes to their next dose of medication, tiredness or anxiety may lessen their attention and their joy.

Warpmike. Text added.
Warpmike. Text added. | Source

Charles Spurgeon, famous British preacher in the nineteenth century, wrote about a still older preacher who used to say, “We ought seldom to go much beyond forty minutes, or say, three-quarters of an hour. If a fellow cannot say all he has to say in that time, when will he say it?" That may still be too much time for some of the elderly and most of the Millennials.

8. Fellowship Lunch

It would certainly add to their positive experience for the aging members to know that a fellowship lunch is attached to the worship agenda. Especially for those who live alone, it would provide another reason to look forward to the weekly service. The hospitality staff could arrange this is several ways:

  • The meal may be prepared in the church kitchen to be enjoyed there by those who are able to remain, or for take out by those who have to hurry home;
  • Church families may be assigned to host a certain number of elderly members on assigned weeks, or to carry the meals to their homes.
  • Lunch visits could be arranged for members to help prepare the Sabbath meals in the homes of the elderly and dine with them there.

9. Worship Service at Home

This may be challenging, but shut-in elderly members who attended the worship service regularly when they were able, would appreciate an occasional worship service at their home. When they can longer get to the church, it would be great for the church to get to them—even once in a while. Both the shut in and the visiting ministers will enjoy a mini-worship service prepared in love for an old worship veteran.

10. The Golden Rule

The Bible refers to the church as a building (Ephesians 2:20). Better to prop up the old bricks, not push them out when they begin to crumble. Propping up will enable the old to disintegrate peacefully while the new expands to fill the space that is left.

The Digital Artist. Text added.
The Digital Artist. Text added. | Source

Bear in mind that the aging process in the congregation is ongoing. The modern stones today will become aged in the future. Let the leaders of this generation establish a protocol of respect and compassion for the elderly, which they would like for themselves when they become old.

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Dora Weithers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

        Chitrangada Sharan 

        3 days ago from New Delhi, India

        There are some very useful suggestions in your article and I can relate to them. Taking care of the elderly needs lot of understanding of their specific needs and the most important thing is having love, patience and compassion for them.

        Thanks for sharing this thoughtful article.

      • profile image

        Antonio50S 

        3 days ago

        To Dora.

        I am still practicing Brevity, but i think i deviated a little on the last post.

        I thought you made that Brevity word up, then i remembered ( Psalms 90:12 ) Oh the Brevity of life. "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom"

        It's in that context as well that i referred to Karma. NOT in a bad way, but sometimes it's easy to let life slip by, and before we know it, it's over. By being more aware of that Brevity we learn how to count our days even better, for the better with "eternity" in view.

        And keeping that in mind, we can Endure and Enjoy the Service even more so.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        3 days ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Shaloo. Now that I am one of the oldies, it is easier to understand their needs.

      • swalia profile image

        Shaloo Walia 

        3 days ago from India

        Some excellent suggestions!

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        5 days ago from The Caribbean

        Thank you, RTalloni. Your approach to consult God on the situation is wise and commendable.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        5 days ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Pastor Bill. You're in a privileged position, having the experience to match the responsibility. Blessings on you, your ministry and members.

      • RTalloni profile image

        RTalloni 

        7 days ago from the short journey

        Not respecting the elderly has definitely bled into some churches. Thank you for a useful post to get people thinking about this problem and to guide them into taking action. Like other areas of our lives, asking ourselves what God has to say to us about the topic tells us how we should think and respond to the elderly in our churches.

      • lifegate profile image

        William Kovacic 

        7 days ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

        There's a lot of good advice wrapped up in wisdom in this article, Dora. From an elderly minister's point of view. It all works - on both sides.

      • Cheryl E Preston profile image

        Cheryl E Preston 

        9 days ago from Roanoke

        Thank you

      • profile image

        Antonio50S 

        9 days ago

        Taken from the "Berean Study Bible" ( Leviticus 19:32 )

        "You are to rise in the presence of the elderly, honor the aged, and fear your God. I am the LORD"

        There may be mitigating circumstances in todays world which makes it hard for some to do that, past upbringings etc, which God is aware of, but as a "General rule" Especially in congregational settings the above verse is a command from God himself. That's what God expects, but unfortunately he cannot force people to do that.

        If there's one thing that distinguishes us from the animal world, it's FREE WILL. That "free will" is also the reason why theres so many problems in the world today and ALSO why God don't step in right now to sort it all out. But eventually when God has proved his point that "Man cannot govern or direct their own steps apart from him" as history is proving again and again, then that's when he will step in and sort the worlds problems out. ( Jeremiah 10:23 ) But the only ones who's really going to see the rewards are the ones who used that FREE WILL to make the right choices. Making the right choices applies to ALL, both young and old.

        We can call it Karma if we wish, but Jesus made it very clear, "What we sow, is what we reap" Even Physics Prove that in Newton's Third Law. "For every action theres a reaction"

        God is still inviting everyone, everywhere to test him out and see if his ways don't work best. But we also need to keep in mind, the work God is doing through his Son this time, is not just for our immediate benefit or generation, but for the benefit of ALL future generations to come.

        If God commands people to Rise In The Presence of the Elderly, he's doing so for a reason. Helping the Elderly is part of that command.

        Sorry Dora. Only trying to help.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        10 days ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks Cynthia, for echoing my concern: "I RARELY hear of how we could honour our elderly members by thinking carefully of their place in the lifespan and what their needs might be at that point."

        Thanks also for sharing the caring spirit of the exemplary church and pastor you described. There's so much to learn.

      • techygran profile image

        Cynthia 

        10 days ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

        This is spot-on, Dora! I frequently hear how we need to masculinize/de-feminize our services to attract more men, or, even more frequently, what we "must do" to attract and grow young adult membership.

        I have often seen hard-working elders taken for granted, and allowed, mostly, to fade into a caricature of themselves once they are allowed to retire as the head deaconess, for example. I RARELY hear of how we could honour our elderly members by thinking carefully of their place in the lifespan and what their needs might be at that point.

        I think of one church we attend that seems to have a vibrant multi-generational attendance. They really do go all out to care for the elderly (sing from the hymnals, pick them up, announce special occasions like birthdays and read from the front the names of people who are hospitalized or sick at home and welcoming visitors).

        They also have families with children, single moms, single professional and disabled people attending, so they are reaching a spectrum of people with a variety of needs. They also invite dogs out of hot cars to wait in a basement room for the service to end.

        Looked at more closely, I recognize they are practicing Christ-like kindness and thoughtfulness. And this is a Church whose pastor is only there every third week.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        10 days ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Devika. It is true that children who interact with their grand parents have the opportunity to learn care and compassion for the elderly from an early age.

      • profile image

        Devika Primic 

        11 days ago

        Interesting and useful hub! Care in all aspects is required for the elderly and everyone don't care for the elderly. Everything starts at home for a child and if not taught by the parents you would find that care for the elderly from the growing up child. They won't respect others or the elderly if parents don't teach their children from a young age.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        11 days ago from The Caribbean

        Antonio, thanks for your input. I appreciate your admiration for the elderly.

      • profile image

        Antonio50S 

        11 days ago

        To Dora.

        I totally agree. It's about helping the Elderly to "Endure" the Worship Service. There's nothing wrong with "Enjoying" it along the way as well.

        Most, if not all the early disciples died an early death because of their faith. ( And that was the easy part ) "Crucifying the flesh" ? We don't need to go looking for that one since getting old is no fun for anybody, and that itself is crucifying the flesh on a daily basis with the pain some of these Elderly people have to go through.

        One of the "Secrets" ( Or learning to be "Content" in all situations ) Paul was referring to in ( 1 Philippians 4:10-13 ) would have include "Endurance" but he also "Rejoiced" in whatever situation he found himself in as well. Getting Older was another challenge. There's a lot of Wisdom in them "Old Bricks" and we should keep this one thing in mind, them "Old Bricks" will one day become even more youthful than todays youth. How would we feel then knowing how we neglected them now ? A lot of these Elderly even have smiles on their faces, not because they are Pain Free, but because they learned a lot of Paul's Secrets, and for that, have the right attitude.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        12 days ago from The Caribbean

        Tim, thanks for sharing that beautiful idea. Elderly members are blessed by such thoughtful acts of service.

      • Tim Truzy info4u profile image

        Tim Truzy 

        12 days ago from U.S.A.

        Wonderful article, Ms. Dora. These are wonderful suggestions. I particularly like the one we do: Each week, we hold a "devotion," which is focused on the week's sermon at an elderly member's house who cannot make it out. But all of these thoughts are crucial for Christians to remember. After all, as you rightly point out, the young members of the congregation someday will be elderly. Bless your talents and gifts for communicating the truth. Respect and admiration.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        12 days ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Lincy. I guess that old people like me think about such things. I appreciate your kind comment.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        12 days ago from The Caribbean

        Lori, sorry about that elderly woman. Children need to be taught to look out for them, so such accidents do not happen. Obviously, your congregation has the old folks' interest in mind.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        12 days ago from The Caribbean

        Linda, your pastor is a keeper. There needs to be more like him.

      • Lincy Francis profile image

        Lincy Francis 

        12 days ago from Allahabad

        Loved your article Ms. Dora. It addresses a very less spoken of issue. Even I have never thought about these things in particular. It's a keeper for the days to come.

      • lambservant profile image

        Lori Colbo 

        12 days ago from Pacific Northwest

        This was fantastic. I never thought about the toilet seat. We worship at a school and the toilets are small and low. We do have some older people but none appear to need any special help, but some issues aren't seen with the eye.

        We are a contemporary church however we sing hymns and modern songs. I love them both. The older people sit in front mostly so they can see and hear better (that would be me).

        At a very small church I once went to, we had a potluck. An elderly woman was getting food when some small children running wild in the fellowship hall, knocked her over and she broke her hip. I have a pet peeve about parents letting their little one race and run all over. They can knock people over, cause them to spill hot coffee, or trip someone.

        You covered all the bases. I always love your interesting thoughtful topics.

      • Carb Diva profile image

        Linda Lum 

        12 days ago from Washington State, USA

        Dora, oh yes, the Pastor visits once per week and offers Holy Communion for them if they so desire.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        12 days ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Pam. It would be great if members gave preference to the elderly without having to be told, but some don't.. So we have to assign parking for the elderly in addition to the handicapped. Please feel free to forward the article

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        12 days ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Linda. The young needs to be reminded that youth does not last forever. We need to appreciate both the young and the aged.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        12 days ago from The Caribbean

        Linda, thanks for sharing. Kudos to your church for facilitating the shut ins. I hope they still get an occasional, personal visit. Yes, the elderly have to decide how much movement they can handle. Hope they are given options.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        12 days ago from The Caribbean

        Carolyn, I totally agree. The habit of long sermons is disappearing. I referred to the Millennials who possibly cannot wrap their heads around the idea.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        12 days ago from The Caribbean

        Charlie, remember when Jesus asked His disciple-friend to take care of His old mother? (John 19:26-27) It is in the same vein that I am asking us to take care of the elderly church members.

        Thanks for your willingness to expound on crucifying the flesh, but that's an entirely different discussion for another time.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        12 days ago from The Caribbean

        Bill, you're as old as you feel, they say. So don't give in to old age just yet. Thanks for your kind comment.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        12 days ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Liz. That's a very important point you raised. It's one thing to seat the elderly near the front to accommodate their hearing the Word, but then they'd be too close to the loud music. And yes, in many congregations the program organizers import speakers when some of the older folk in their congregation can do as good a job.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        12 days ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Flourish. Older people have much respect for their pastor. A visit from him means the world to them.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        12 days ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Cheryl. Looking out for the oldies, of which I am one.

      • Pamela99 profile image

        Pamela Oglesby 

        12 days ago from Sunny Florida

        As a senior citizen, I can say I loved your article for church goers. I like your suggestions and think they could really help the seniors to get into church and for their membership to feel valued. We have a few handicap spots at my church, but if I don't arrive early they are gone. It is hard to walk a distance when you have to use a walker. I wish all pastors could read your article, as it is wonderful.

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        12 days ago from British Columbia, Canada

        This is a lovely article, Dora. Your suggestions are excellent. It's important for people of all ages to be able to appreciate and participate in the different aspects of a church service or other spiritual event. As you say, people who are young today will eventually be elderly and may have to face the problems experienced by some of today's seniors.

      • Carb Diva profile image

        Linda Lum 

        12 days ago from Washington State, USA

        Valuable points all presented with careful thought and loving spirit. I find that my greatest difficulty is the continual standing and sitting and standing again (as Lutherans we sit when we sing and stand when we pray).

        Another suggestion is something that we have begun to do at our church--we live stream the service so that shut-ins can still hear the sermon, liturgy, and hymns. (You can even pause the video feed if you need to go to the bathroom, etc.).

      • Carolyn M Fields profile image

        Carolyn Fields 

        12 days ago from South Dakota, USA

        A sermon that goes on for 45 minutes? I don't think that's going to work today - where most attention spans can be measured in seconds, not minutes. This applies to all age groups.

        All good points - thank you for sharing your wisdom.

      • celafoe profile image

        charlie 

        13 days ago from From Kingdom of God living on Planet earth in between the oceans

        the idea of making "church" of the church system (which is not found in the new testament) comfortable is not compatable with Jesus plans which require complete change. crucifying your flesh is not a comfortable experience it but is is necessary and a requirement. Jesus says if we follow HIM (not man) we will have trouble. He never promised, peace and comfort as the false church system does

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        13 days ago from Olympia, WA

        I guess I'm considered elderly, but I sure don't feel like it yet. Great suggestions, Dora! I love your giving heart.

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        13 days ago from UK

        You give an interesting perspective on worship. One of my greatest struggles in years past (not where we now attend) is how much the wealth of wisdom and experience in older members of a congregation is ignored and goes unused by churches.

        A point I would add to your list is setting worship at an acceptable volume. Too often our ears are assailed by music set too loud, causing me to fear for people's hearing and my husband to ask:"Do they think God is deaf?" We have been known to sit through services in churches we have visited with ear plugs in and still heard every word. I am so grateful for the church we now attend that respects its elders and sets the volume to a reasonable level.

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        13 days ago from USA

        The suggestions you make ring true based on my grandmother’s experience. She also appreciates a visit or card from the preacher when she’s in the hospital.

      • Cheryl E Preston profile image

        Cheryl E Preston 

        13 days ago from Roanoke

        This is a very informative article. These are excellent suggestions.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, letterpile.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://letterpile.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)