Ideas for A Worship Service Featuring Senior Adults
In June of 2010, the congregation I serve as Pastor to Seniors had a worship service planned and led by the senior adults of the congregation. Here are some ideas we used in planning and carrying out the service.
The Seniors did the planning. The most important element of the service was that it was planned by the seniors themselves. It was suggested by the Senior Pastor and the Worship Pastor that our usual worship planning team should have nothing to do with the service. Accordingly, I called a meeting of some representative seniors to discuss the songs and other elements to be included in the service. The group picked the following hymns:
“What A Friend We Have in Jesus”
“Standing on the Promises”
“Sing the Wondrous Love of Jesus”
For the offertory song, a senior played “Bringing in the Sheaves.” Another senior sang “It Is Well with My Soul” as a solo.
Our congregation generally has a mixture of praise songs and choruses along with the old standards. It was a good experience for the seniors to pick out the music for themselves. They made it clear that they did not want the drums (from our Praise Band) to be played on their Sunday!
The sermon was focused on an older Bible character. Although the purpose of the sermon was to highlight the power of God being available for any age believer, the sermon highlighted Caleb from the Old Testament who was 85 years old when he carried out a difficult task. The sermon has already been posted on Associated Content.
A responsive reading emphasized God’s power. Since the sermon lifted up the role of God’s power in the success enjoyed by Caleb, two of our senior adults led a responsive reading that emphasized God’s power. The reading consisted entirely of verses drawn from Psalm 91.
Some seniors shared their thoughts on their Christian faith and their age. We thought it might be interesting to the congregation to understand how senior adults saw the connection between their mature years and their Christian faith. I took pictures of 18 of our seniors and asked them to explain how they saw that connection. During the worship service, the pictures and the quotations were projected for the entire congregation to see.
We included a senior “choir.” Earlier in the year, we had had a worship service planned and led by people who have been reached by our congregation’s ministry to homeless people. Part of that service included a “choir” made up of homeless individuals. Someone thought it would be nice for the seniors to have their own “choir.” We decided that “Standing on the Promises” had the upbeat kind of tempo that would add some life to the group’s performance. We practiced a couple of times. During the actual worship service, the seniors came to the front of the sanctuary and sang the first verse of the hymn. The rest of the verses were parceled out, first to the women in the congregation, then to the men, then to the entire congregation.
We included a reading to challenge the seniors (and everyone else). One of our seniors, who celebrated her 90th birthday a few weeks after the senior worship service, gave a reading that challenged seniors (and by implication, everyone else) to make the best of their lives in how they talk and act. It was titled “Give Us A Happy Heart” and appears to have been from a devotional book. I was not able to find the source, but you get the idea.
We included seniors in every part of the service. In keeping with the day, one of our seniors played the organ for the hymns. A senior welcomed the congregation and had the pastoral prayer. Seniors served as ushers and took the offering. A senior gave the children’s sermon.
Granted, there were seniors who did not take leadership roles because of fear of speaking in front of the congregation. There were others who did not take part in the “choir” because they said they couldn’t sing. Overall, however, the service went well and was appreciated by the rest of the congregation. One teenager wrote a note, “I love old people!” What more has to be said!
Source: The sermon on Caleb can be found at http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/5556842/caleb_oldbut_not_finished.html?cat=34