Faith Formation

Our church has a lot of programs for children and teens but nothing for those of us who are retirement age. I feel as if I don’t count. Shouldn't the church have things for us too?

Feeling as if you don’t count in the church means that things are not as they should be. Talk to an elder or a pastor and explore why you feel that way. There are a variety of reasons you might not see any programs for older members. In our church some programs stopped years ago when there was no one willing to lead, and they just never started up again.

Another thing to consider is that children and teens are not able to organize programs to meet their own faith needs. Older adults have the ability and the time to organize activities and programs for themselves, so churches often don’t make this a high priority.

But programs are not the only way to form faith. Through prayer, worship, community, service, and fellowship, a life can be intentionally filled with meaning and purpose. Older adults who find their identity in Christ should continue to be be formed in faith through developing new habits and practices that deepen a relationship with him. Congregations should look for ways to encourage these spiritual patterns in people of all ages, including older members. These members are crucial to the life of the church, which should be sure to address their faith needs and to encourage them to participate in congregational life.

Older adults have also been given the gift of time—time to walk with Jesus and with his people. They can be important partners in helping to form faith in children and teens through the simple practice of being a friend and sharing conversations. Older adults have learned from years of experience how to deal with grief and struggle, with joy and despair. Their stories need to be shared so that young members of your church know that when they experience their own times of struggle or loss, others in their community have experienced similar struggles before them. Through building relationships and sharing our lives with each other, all of us learn better what it means to be the body of Christ.

About the Author

Laura Keeley is a regional catalyzer for Faith Formation Ministries and director of children’s ministries at 14th St. CRC in Holland, Mich.

Robert J. Keeley is a professor of education at Calvin College and director of distance education at Calvin Seminar

X