The changing face of the population in China has raised the need for elderly ministry, a leading Chinese Christian ministry says.
China has the largest elderly population in the world as people aged over 60 exceed 1.3 billion, which is 10 percent of the total population, according to the latest statistics from the China National Committee on Ageing. China is currently facing the crisis of ageing population. However, the spiritual need for the elderly is often neglected by churches, Christian Communication Inc. (CCI) China Church Ministry commented in a featured article in March.
Currently, very few churches in Mainland China has started elderly ministry. Some of the churches in Northwest China prepare special worship service to teach young people the importance of respecting elderly, and they post up scriptures related to respecting the elderly on the wall. In addition, elderly fellowship and choir are formed in some churches. Elderly can join some bible study classes in the morning, which will teach them how to read and write the scriptures. Not only they can study the word of God, but they can also serve the church by copying scriptures on the blackboard for Sunday services, therefore those classes are very popular.
In Guangdong province, the elderly ministry is opening up gradually when churches try to reach out to the community. One of the ministers shared, "We have started volunteer work in 13 old people’s home in this county. Through visiting them, we show them love and care so as to prepare their hearts to receive the Gospel. Until now, out of the 300 elderly, 80 percent has received the Gospel and become Christian." Following the strategy, some churches open old people’s homes as a preparation for elderly ministry.
It is suggested that children ministry may lead to the development of elderly ministry. According to CCI, many children in Mainland China are taken care of by their grandparents. Children attending Sunday school may bring back the biblical story books to home and read to their grandparents. Some grandparents go to the church for the very first time when they bring their grandchildren to attend Sunday school. Through various ways, the elderly are brought to the church and hear the Gospel because of their grandchildren.
Even though old people are not as strong as young adults physically, their experiences are very helpful in supporting the younger generation. Participation of elderly in visiting old people’s home and evangelism are very crucial as well for they can give more convincing testimonies to people of similar age.
CCI urges churches to look into the spiritual need of elderly and guide them to Christ. It calls on Christians to pray for elderly ministry in Mainland China that elderly fellowship, bible study groups and interest groups will be revived. For the elderly who have started serving in the church, Christians should pray that they will not be confined by their physical weaknesses and be diligent in sharing and passing on their precious experiences to the younger generations.