Guidance on particular sensitivities for senior's evangelism
Churches have a Biblical mandate to reach out to people of all cultures and ages. There are going to be significant opportunities for evangelism and outreach with older people as there are going to be many more older people in churches who are able to participate in this aspect of ministry and many many more older people in our communities who need to hear the good news of the gospel.
We share the gospel of Jesus Christ in many ways. The Apostle Paul said that he adapted his teaching to the thinking of people in their different cultures so that he might be able to reach them.
Loneliness and isolation is a key issue for many older people and this, combined with a lifetime of experiences to unpack, requires some new approaches to explore the Christian faith.
Older people are sometimes seen to be stubborn, or inflexible in their thinking. This is not because their mental processing is slower (although this can be the case) but it is often because they want to retain their autonomy: they don’t want to be vulnerable to persuasion by others. They want to make their own decisions (as we all do).
Throughout their lives, their experiences have shaped their expectations and their understanding. Many will have heard the good news more than once, sometimes directly, sometimes peripherally. They may have accepted Jesus Christ as Saviour, or they may have rejected him. They have laid down layers of thinking that justify their decisions.
Evangelism to older people therefore needs to include such considerations and reflect the fact that some older people find it hard to concentrate for longer periods of time and they can also have difficulty with the written word. The video below is a useful introduction to why ‘relational evangelism’ works particularly well with older people.