Why Youth Ministry Relationships With Senior Adults Are Important! -Hayden Dennis
In youth ministry, it is natural to try to form relationships with parents and students. In church, on any given Sunday, we are usually spotted talking with the youth or one of their parents.
However, there is a group of people in our churches who are often overlooked: senior adults. Yes, they can sometimes be a little grumpy or smell like 2-month old moth balls. Nonetheless, they are humans and we are called to minister to them as well.
Here are 4 reasons why our relationships with the senior adults in our churches matters.
1. They can be your biggest supporters.
In most churches, senior adults make up the majority of tithe and offering givers. At the risk of sounding selfish, a good relationship with senior adults could lead to abundant financial backing and more future ministry endeavors that otherwise would be too costly. Senior adults can also be a source of abundant emotional support for you and the youth. Most senior adults have grandchildren, and they know how to love younger kids and teenagers. For example, if a female student comes to you and says “I’m pregnant”, we can lean on an older woman to support her through this tumultuous time. She can build into her spiritually and guide her through the many emotional days, weeks, and months to come. Even as youth ministers, a relationship with the senior adult men can be an emotional boost. Just last week, my church’s “people mover” needed some repairs done, and one of the senior adult men asked if I could drive him to go pick it up. We met at 7:30 that next morning, and I will always cherish that morning when we talked about life, his family, and the youth ministry.
2. They have more life experience.
There is a Greek proverb that says “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” One thing I do at my church is to try and have the senior adults talk to my youth. They have so much life experience that any teenager would benefit from, be it a fun experience from when they were teenagers or a more serious talk about the many hardships and blessed times in their lives. A strong relationship with senior adults creates a more comfortable avenue for them to come up and share with teenagers. Most senior adults will never see what these teenagers will end up doing in life, so right now we need to build relationships together and have them build into and pour truth into our students.
3. They lead to a healthy church.
A church is healthy when the senior adults and students have a cohesiveness and unity in the Gospel. By building relationships with your senior adults, it helps lead to that unity, and your church will be able to spread the Gospel at an even greater rate. Too many times have I heard youth ministers say, “My church just feels like two separate churches.” This is disheartening to hear and not how the church was made to function. It is too easy to fall into “The youth do their things, and the adults do other things”.
The band Listener shares this lyric: “Our hearts are abridged, let’s build bridges to each other, So we don’t take ourselves under”. Senior adults and youth have abridged hearts if we believe in Jesus Christ. We should work to forge relationships so that the world doesn't take us under.
4. They need ministering, too.
1 John 4:7-8 says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
As followers of Christ, we are called to love everyone, not just the students in our youth ministry. Sometimes this is hard to follow as we caught up in student events at schools and at church. Senior adults are still people who need love and ministering. Also, if we show love and build relationships with our senior adults, our youth will see that it is important, and they will follow suit. These relationships will provide dividends that will become fruit bearing later in life, but they are worth investing in right now.
Senior adults are a fickle bunch. Not every one of them will want to form a relationship with you or your students. However, do not let this get you down. There are too many who want to be involved with the youth or others that just want to be loved by someone.
I pray that you are one of these people and that you seek out these relationships.
About The Author: Hayden Dennis
Hayden is the student pastor at Checotah First Baptist Church. A life long Oklahomie, who loves building future leaders of the church. In his free time, Hayden enjoys being a wannabe comedian, playing basketball, and striving to be the greatest monopoly player of all time. As a joke, he entered the 2013 NBA Draft