Championing the Cause of Older People 

Alex Version 1

Author: Faith in Later Life

This article was originally published on the Baptists Together website. Reposted with permission.

Alex Drew, Former Operations Manager at Webnet has moved on to lead the work of Faith in Later Life, a Christian charity which exists to inspire and equip Christians to reach, serve and empower older people in every community, through the local church.

Reflecting on the Transition

Joining the Webnet team and Seventy-two back in 2015 was a wonderful opportunity to support the work of equipping missional disciples in the West of England. At that time, I was the administrator at Clevedon Baptist Church, as well as being engaged in evangelistic ministries there, and lay preaching throughout the region. This triple aspect, of local, regional and all-missional has been a fantastic education and experience for me, which I hope will serve me well in my next role.

Through my work and ministry, I’ve had the privilege of connecting with churches and seeing within and beyond my own context the life-giving work that goes on throughout the Baptist family, and how in almost all cases older people are at the heart of it. Not only are they the recipients of God’s love and care through His people, but they are often the channels He uses to share that love and grace with others in their reach.

Friendship cafes, seniors Alpha courses, good news events and care home services are largely led by people in later life for people in later life, and it’s been inspirational to see these wonderful ministries in action, and leading to faith and baptisms. But it’s not just seniors ministries older people roll their sleeves up for – they’re preaching in the pulpit, running the youth club tuck-shop, welcoming people on the door, teaching children in Sunday school, and so much more.

Through the scriptures we know God loves older people, He has wonderful plans for them and calls us to honour those in later life.  Our churches, communities, and society itself are enriched by the life and work of older people, it’s time to celebrate them again, and to love them through the challenging season they may face.

A lot of time and resources are invested in reaching children and young people for Jesus, and rightly so – imagine the impact they’ll have as Christians over their whole lives, for God’s glory.

When it comes to older people though, we have a lot less time left to extend God’s invitation of love and salvation. People in later life often have long-held and deeply rooted misconceptions about faith, Jesus, and His people. We know that God can overcome these, but the urgency of the gospel gets very real when something happens that accelerates a person’s decline in physical health, understanding or communication, and our window of opportunity closes.

Aware of this, I’m both daunted and delighted to be taking the lead at Faith in Later Life. The work is urgent, complex, and sometimes heart-breaking, and yet I know that God wants none to perish, He’s given us a simple gospel to share, and He heals the broken-hearted.

I also know it’s a team effort. Every church has at least one person with a heart for older people, sometimes it’s the pastor, and sometimes it’s someone else. We’re doing this together, but championing the cause of older people can be an isolating role, not everyone gets excited about seniors ministry (welcome to my world), so it’s good to journey with others who are doing the same.

That’s why I’m looking forward to connecting with the Faith in Later Life Church Champions network which is all about connecting, encouraging, inspiring and training those involved with this special work. It’s for people who’ve been at it a long time, people just exploring what faith in later life might look like in their context, and those who don’t even know where to start. A few Baptists are already part of it, and I’d love to welcome more!

Please pray for me as I finish my role at Webnet and make the move to Faith in Later Life in August.

If you’d value a conversation about Faith in Later Life where you are, or would like to invite me to come and encourage your congregation through the scriptures and a few Faith in Later Life stories, you can invite me via [email protected]