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A Vision for the Aging Church: Renewing Ministry for and by Seniors

James M. Houston & Michael Parker

Publisher ‏ : ‎ IVP Academic; 1st edition (Oct. 10 2011)
Language ‏ : ‎ English
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 279 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0830839488
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0830839483
Item weight ‏ : ‎ 399 g
Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 15.24 x 2.29 x 22.61 cm

About the Book

Are we ready for the opportunities and challenges facing the aging church?
Now is the time for the church to offer ministry to its increasing numbers of seniors and to benefit from ministry they can offer. In this book James M. Houston and Michael Parker issue an urgent call to reconceive the place and part of the elderly and seniors in the local church congregation.
Confronting the idea that the aging are mostly a burden on the church, they boldly address the moral issues related to caring for them, provide examples of successful care-giving programs and challenge the church to restore broken connections across the generations.
Cowritten by a noted theologian and an expert in the fields of social work and gerontology, this interdisciplinary book assesses our current cultural context and the challenges and opportunities we face. The authors show us that seniors aren't the problem. They are the solution.

Table of Contents 


Prologue: Distressed Communities

Part I: An Ageist Zeitgeist

1. The Aging Church: A Future Katrina?

2. Is Society Prepared for Its Aging Population?

3. The Confused Cultural Role of Seniors in Secular Society and the Church

Part II: Biblical And Historical Themes Of Aging

4. Aging in a Biblical Context

5. Biblical Roles for Seniors-Elders

6. The Portrait of a Mature Christian Senior-Elder

7. Elders as Exemplars and Mentors for Christian Renewal

8. The Lived Wisdom of Christian Elders

9. Honoring Elders in Early Christianity

Part III: Solutions For An Aging Church

10. The Primacy of Theological Anthropology in an Aging Church

11. Aging Successfully: Myths and Realities

12. Caregiving: The Twenty-First Century’s Greatest Test of Character

13. Local Senior Ministry Associations and Ecumenical Partnerships

14. Important Steps to Unifying Our Communities

Part IV: Late Life Significant Living

15. Faith Is All About Relationships in a Culture of Disability and Depression

16. Facing Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias with Hope in God’s Remembrance

17. Christians, Seniors, and a More Personal Society

18. The Vital Role of Repentance

19. In Summary: Becoming a Christian Elder in Rebuilding the Church

Part V: Finishing Well

20. Facing Death and Bereavement

Epilogue: Dying Elders, Living Church

Appendix A: "The Life Review" Preparation Tips and Questions

Appendix B: Church Survey Questions

Appendix C: Parent Care Readiness Program

Appendix D: Sample Senior Ministry Association Correspondence

Appendix E: State Agencies on Aging

About the Authors


What Others Say About the Book

Hugh M. Lee,
Director, Elder Law Clinic,
University of Alabama School of Law

Richard M. Allman, M.D.,
Professor of Medicine
Director of the Center for Aging and Division of Gerontology, Geriatrics, and Palliative Care
The University of Alabama, Birmingham

Daniel C. Potts, M.D.,
Associate Clinical Professor,
College of Community Health Sciences,
School of Medicine
The University of Alabama

Harold G. Koenig, M.D.,
Director of the Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health
Duke University Medical Center

John H. Coe,
Director, Institute for Spiritual Formation, Biola University

Julia Hindmarsh, R.N., B.S.N., M.P.H., Instructor,
Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, Department of Public Health, retired.

Stephen F. Voorhies, M.D.,
Chief of Staff,
Central Washington Hospital,
Wenatchee, Washington

Daniel K. Winstead, M.D.,
Robert G. Heath Professor and Chairman,
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences,
Tulane University School of Medicine

Timothy George,
Founding dean of Beeson Divinity School Samford University
The general editor of the Reformation Commentary on Scripture

George F. Fuller, M.D.,
Director, VA Locum Tenens Program

"With A Vision for the Aging Church, Drs. Houston and Parker challenge the church to reimagine its ministry by and to seniors, encouraging the church to embrace and honor the contributions that can be made by its senior members while more effectively ministering to their needs. The book provides an important bridge between the scriptural imperatives which must drive the church's senior mission and the realities of aging in the United States at the start of the twenty-first century. To be effective in ministry, church leaders must understand the basic medical, social, legal and spiritual issues facing our aging population. The authors have effectively identified many of the issues to be addressed by the church and have provided the scriptural inspiration to move churches forward."

"James Houston and Michael Parker provide a wake-up call to the church in A Vision for the Aging Church. Despite biblical commands to honor and care for older adults, the church has failed to value the lives of the rapidly increasing numbers of older members by excluding them from ministry and failing to provide help for them and their caregivers when it is needed. This book challenges older adults to embrace their important God-given roles as leaders and elders in the modern church. Every church leader and seminary student needs to read this book and heed the call to let the elders enlighten them. This book makes it clear that rejecting ageism not only offers hope for spiritual renewal within the church but also for society as a whole."

"I am distinctly honored to call James Houston and Michael Parker friends and colleagues in mission. In A Vision for the Aging Church, these two cultural 'evangelists' advocate for a paradigm shift in both church and society--one in which our elders are proudly embraced and engrafted into vibrant leadership and ministry. As a dementia neurologist, I know that most of our elders will eventually require caregivers. And caregivers need many more resources than are currently available for them. In following the call sounded forth in this fine book we should be assured that we have honored our elders, validated their unique place in church and society, and been true to the highest of all callings. Read this book and be inspired!"

"A Vision for the Aging Church offers much-needed insight into the future of our aging congregations. Houston and Parker offer sage advice to both the elderly and their pastors and congregations for best practices of serving--and being served by--the seniors in our churches."

"Houston and Parker have written a critical book for our day. They detail well how the prejudicial practice of 'ageism' by Western culture and the church has far-reaching and devastating results for our time. As one with an interest in spiritual formation, I'm grateful that we finally have someone providing a vision for the church regarding how the elderly are a potential powerhouse of spiritual depth and vitality as well as examples in life and sacrificial caring for others. Without elderly persons' profound leadership, involvement and interaction, the church, family and society are destined to become a truncated community bent on self-referential consumerism and impersonal overproductivity. God help us in opening to this timely message."

"James Houston and Michael Parker cast a vision of a church community where no one is 'pushed to the fringe.' Rather, we see 'intergenerational mutuality' where each person is embraced as an essential contributing member in relationship with the others, sharing in love, wisdom and common purpose. It is a vision worthy of pursuit."

"The book's spiritual wisdom, the personal honesty of the authors, the up-to-date research on aging, and the critique of ageism in both the culture at large and in the church make this a very important work. I have found it encouraging and challenging both personally and clinically and recommend it wholeheartedly regardless of one's vocation or place in life."

"This book explores the role of senior citizens in today's church and is a ringing indictment of the lack of respect, concern and caring for our seniors found in most of today's congregations. The historical roots and problems are explored and remedies and solutions are proposed. This is a must-read for sociologists, social/behavior scientists, gerontologists, priests, pastors and ministers of our modern churches."

"A Vision for the Aging Church brings together both scientific learning and spiritual wisdom on the increasingly important issue of aging in our society today. We have here a valuable resource for professionals, pastors and laypersons everywhere, a groundbreaking work in the field."

"A source of inspiration and guidance for elders and their caregivers in the quest for successful aging. This work addresses a domain of living critical to many individuals that is generally ignored by the medical care system. Drs. Houston and Parker address the intergenerational issues of ministry for seniors as they navigate life and prepare for death."

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