On Thursday, some of the Scott Boulevard ministry staff met with Cooperative Baptist Fellowship staff for a Lunch and Learn because they wanted to hear about our ministry. The pastor discussed the lengthy discernment process that lead the congregation to their decision to care for people instead of caring for a building. He talked about the obstacles the congregation faced in trying to re-purpose their building – eventually deciding to sell. Our deacon chair talked about the process from an emotional, feelings standpoint, and about her role in helping members get on board.
My role was to talk about the future. The other night at my bible study, my brother in law started talking about those choose your own adventure books kids used to read. My job kinda feels like a choose your own adventure at the moment, because the ministry is still being built. I have a vision for where we are headed, and my comments at the CBF Lunch and Learn aimed to put some meat on the structural bones of the ministry vision:
In observing the people of Scott Boulevard, I’ve noticed that the more they understand what we are doing, the more on board with it they get.What we are doing is reaching out to our elderly home-bound, particularly those who live alone. Our Care Ministry is overseen by a team of individuals at Scott Boulevard who are responsible for calling 4-5 people each throughout the week. Generally, the people they are calling and occasionally visiting are members or participants who are unable to regularly attend Sunday morning worship.
Care Ministry gives our people a chance to own and embrace the unique mission that God has granted to the congregation at Scott Boulevard – to be the presence of Christ to the isolated.
My role in the Care Ministry is to maintain frequent, structured contact with each person in our Care Ministry through phone calls, letters and visits. My structured contact plan provides for weekly phone calls, monthly handwritten letters, and home visits, so that each person in our care ministry receives at least one face -to- face in-home visit per month.
Face to face visits address social and emotional needs, and spiritual needs to some extent. Our new program, My Church at Home, will be implemented next month and its objective is not only to assess and address the spiritual needs of our homebound but also to nurture their spiritual lives and encourage spiritual practices.
My Church at Home is a gathering of a few people, assembled in the home of one of our Care Ministry people who live at home and aren’t really able to get out much, uniting hearts and minds together in the worship of God through hymns, a devotional and a time of prayer.
Basically, we are bringing church to people who can’t get to church. My Church at Home is a traveling group of believers, sharing faith, joys and struggles, once a month, providing community to those who need it most.
As we move forward in our ministry, and as it continues to grow and take shape, we will add a supportive ministries branch to complement our person-to-person caring and discipleship ministry.
Supportive ministries will include transportation to and from church or events, in addition to the valet service we are already providing on Sunday mornings.
We will offer support events for caregivers every few months, and we will be looking into developing a visiting nurse program; and as the needs of our congregation begin to respond to our structured interventions,we will begin to reach outside the community around us, identifying neighbors, friends and family of our current church members who might benefit from aging ministries.
We already have members who feel comfortable sharing prayer requests on behalf of their neighbors and friends, and they report back to them that their church is praying for them.
We will rely initially on members and participants in our congregation to help us identify some people they might know who would benefit from a pastoral or social visit, or who may need to be directed toward resources that will address their needs.
My hope and vision for Aging Ministries Missional initiative is that we will become a ministry hub of hands on service and streamlined referral processes, so that the physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs of the aging in our community will be assessed and addressed efficiently, effectively, and compassionately. I’d like to see us reach the need for a strong volunteer base, with schedules and trainings, as well as missional interns to help us serve.
As our ministry grows, we will develop partnerships with other churches and ministry organizations offering aging ministries so that we can learn from them and share our learnings from our own experience.
I see my role in each of our three missional initiatives as a facilitator – whether in leading a caregiver support group, coordinating transportation for Sundays and Wednesdays, researching to educate myself, leading a gathering of my church at home, pastoral visits or grief support, or assisting someone with buying groceries – among so many other things that this ministry will be able to offer.
I am both honored and humbled by the part I get to play in facilitating a re-invention of church, a reimagining of spiritual experience and a redirection in the way society responds to our aging.