Author: Fiona Costa
Following on from our recent interview with one of our ambassadors, Fiona Costa, about the wonderful Cafe Concerts at her church, she shares a few helpful tips for those of us thinking about starting something new for older people:
You may be thinking that it would be a good idea to start some sort of group for the older people in your church. But you may also be thinking that you are not sure where to start. What kind of group should it be? Should it be one that focuses on the older people already in our congregation or should it be more outward looking and reach our local community? What is our aim? Is it to bring people to faith, or to relieve loneliness and foster friendship, or to give guidance and teaching on some of the issues that face older people?
There are so many different possibilities and of course, it would be wonderful to do them all. But that is probably too ambitious for most of us and we need to start somewhere.
Here are some things to think about and to consider:
· Talk to your church leader/s about your ideas. Would they be supportive of them?
· Get together with at least one other member of your church to pray, dream and think together about different possibilities
· Consider who you have in your church congregation. What are their needs?
· Decide on your main aim
· Think and pray about how to realise that aim. Do you need a team? What resources do you need? How will you publicise what you are doing?
· Some form of refreshments will be needed. Are there people who could help with that?
· Take time to think everything through and to pray
I have been involved in regular events for older people for several years. When I started, the loneliness that I saw in the older people around me was the catalyst for starting something. I saw them being marginalised, I saw their social lives shrinking, I saw that so many of them had very little to look forward to, to enjoy. More recently, I started to see that our society is becoming increasingly segregated according to age – we seldom socialize across the age groups, there is less and less that we have in common. And it is older people who are often left out.
The church is so well placed to bring the generations together. Where else are people of every background and every age welcomed? We have a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate a different way of being a community – a community where there is a place for everyone and where we can learn to love people across the age divides.
The numbers of older people continue to grow. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the scale of what is needed. But if more of us gave it a go and started some form of outreach, however small, we could make a difference.
If you haven’t yet seen the interview in which Fi tells us about Cafe Concerts, building good teams for seniors work, and the importance of prayer, you can catch up with it here: