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Members in Ministry
By Murray Miller
Many elderly members of the church while feeling their age still wish to be an active partner in the ministry of the church. The following visit is an example of how we can meet the challenge of involving this demographic in ministry.
I recently visited a semi shut-in couple in their home. While they were faithful prayer partners with the church (something I always appreciate), they still wished that there was something more they could do for the Lord. As we talked some ideas came to mind. 
Suddenly, in the middle of the visit, the phone rang and as the husband left to answer it, I glanced around the room. I couldn’t help but notice many fine qualities about the wife – She was an organized housekeeper, computer savvy, and had a knack for talking on the phone. What’s more, she was prayerful and had the ability to keep confidences.
In that moment the thought struck me, “Between my many ministry demands and my doctoral work, I’m not doing a very good job with my pastoral visits. I wonder if she would be willing to serve as my visitation secretary?  And her husband – he’s a good story teller. I wonder if he would be willing to tell the children’s story from time to time?”
When our visit continued, I said to them, “I have a couple of things I need help with.” They leaned forward in their chairs as I continued. “I need someone to fill in for me with the children’s story when I have to be away on Sabbath.  Walt, is that something you could do for me?” Walt paused and then nodded his head enthusiastically, “Why sure!”
At that point Mary’s eyes begin to fill with hope, so I turned to her and said, “I’m getting behind in my pastoral visits. With my ministry here in the church and doctoral work, plus my getting settled into this new church and all the other challenges that will come my way.” – “And your precious family to care for,” she added. – “I wonder if you would be willing to become my visitation secretary? You do have a long-distance calling plan, don’t you? And a monthly calendar and e-mail access?  And about three hours a week that you can put into this?”  “Yes! Yes!” Mary shouted with joy.  “Great!” I said with growing excitement.  “I’ll give you a written job description and a scheduling form, and you can give me my visitation appointment list each Monday.”
Mary accepted the ministry invitation and has been doing a wonderful job for the past four months. The benefits are mutual – I am not playing phone tag with members. I am able to spend more time on my doctoral studies. And all my other priorities are in order.
What’s more, Mary and Walt once again feel the joy of doing something meaningful for the Lord. The conversations shared with fellow church family members while scheduling the visits are opening opportunities for them to talk with and pray with both active and inactive members. Mary’s weekly reports encourage me as well.  She tells me, “You are doing a good job. Everyone feels blessed and encouraged by your visits.”
Every member, including our seniors, wants to make a meaningful contribution to the growth of our churches. I challenge you to find ways share and equip your members to find their place in God’s service.
Murray Miller is pastor of the Anderson church in California