|Working With Senior Women's Ministry GroupsJulia Bettencourt
I've worked with senior women's ministry groups on and off over the years and since I get so many questions about this topic, I thought I'd share a few things I've learned.
- They Are Still Women.
Whether they've aged on the outside and regardless of whether their health is failing, these seniors are still women and like to be treated as such. They still want to be part of the group. They still like to hold conversations and be interacted with. They still like to be complimented.They still like to be treated with respect. They still like to feel special.
- They Are Filled With Wisdom
Gain from these ladies wisdom. Some of our aged saints have so much to offer and I think we sometimes overlook that. Some of them have such keen insight. They also have valuable life lessons and skills that they are more than willing to share if we'd just take the time to ask them.
- They Have a Need to be Used.
Even if it is not to the degree they once were involved, these senior ladies still like to pitch in and do what they are able. Great areas for them to be involved is as welcome greeters, hospitality, baby rockers for the nursery, making phone calls, food committees, and as prayer warriors. There are many other areas as well. Some of these ladies will work their hearts out if they just had an area to be involved. Frankly, I know some senior women that work physically harder and put more effort into their ministry tasks than a lot of younger women do.
- They Have a Need for Bible Study
Senior ladies still need to dig into the Word for deep bible study. I think sometimes we endeavor to leave them with a point and a poem. They still need some meat and things in the Word to delve into. My last bible study groups with senior women were some of the most stimulating. Frankly I feel like maybe I wasn't the right person to lead. They were so full of insight as well as questions.
One of the things I noticed is that these ladies would always do their homework. They'd read ahead or study what we'd go over and the next week they would show up full of questions and eager to start into the Word again.
- They Have Opinions
These lovely senior saints still want to have some input. Listen to their ideas and what they'd like from your women's groups as well as to your other women of all ages. Sure, they do see life a little differently than your young moms and younger ladies, but seeing everyone's view will help you as a leader in the long run. You might be pleasantly surprised at some of the things they come up with. Listen to everyone's ideas with an open mind.
- They Need Encouragement
These senior ladies need encouragement just like everyone else and sometimes they don't get that need of encouragement met. Be sure to send these ladies cards, pray for them, and take the time to listen to specific prayer requests from them. Some of them have health issues, they have their children and grandchildren's well-being on their minds, and they are getting to that stage in life where they can't do things as they did before and that's so hard on some of these ladies who've been so busy in past years.
Many of these ladies are just lonely. Some of them who are widows, even if it's been years since their husband's death, still feel alone without their spouse.
- They Will Have Ailments
One of the areas I learned I had to deal with was that "ailment" arena that these senior ladies like to discuss among themselves. They have doctors, medications, and all types of things that they have to deal with. I'd have times where it was hard to get them away from the topic so we could get started with our bible study.
It's hard because the consequences of growing older is where these senior ladies live so we've got to make some accommodations for it. Many of these ladies live doctor to doctor appointment, new medication to new medication and they do need some time to chat and talk about it among others that are going through the same things they are. It really is a good thing that they have that interaction because it helps them cope.
To avoid having those ailments become the whole topic of your meeting, you may have to try a few different things. One thing is to have a prayer list that have the general topics of prayer that you know are going to come up every week. Most of these ladies have long term issues that you can count on to be a repeated prayer request so you can have it already listed out to save time in your meeting.
You can also announce that time is short so you are going to take just a certain number of requests as you get started. Another way is to have a separate prayer time for those ladies, maybe have them meet 15 minutes ahead of your meeting and let them go over some of these things and pray with them. We just can't ever minimize those health issues because those things are right there at the forefront of their minds.
They Might Require A Little Special Attention
One practical thing that we need to remember when working with senior women, is that you may have to make slight adjustments for them such as making sure your handouts are in a large enough font for them to read. This doesn't mean you have to do everything in extra, extra large print but be careful about using bitty tiny or fancy and scrawling fonts. They are hard to read for anyone, never-mind how old you are.
Some of these ladies are a little hard of hearing so you need to project your voice when getting up before them to speak as well.
Working with senior ladies is one of my favorite things I've ever done in ministry. I just feel enriched when I get around these godly, wise women. They are a joy to be around. Sure, they have their issues, mostly revolving around health and their grown kids and grand-kids, but that's life. We all have our issues
. They are just a little different for every stage of life we go through.
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