A Vision For The Aging Church

This book gives comprehensive coverage of a huge problem for nations who face a growing issue with aging populations. It gives us a Christian and biblical response to this question. It is jointly written by Dr James Houston who is a founding father of Regent’s College, Vancouver and a pioneer of evangelical spirituality and Dr Michael Parker, who has many medical qualifications through the United States Army and also serves on the governing council of “the American society of Aging Forum on Religion, Spirituality and Aging”. So, most examples of good practice are taken from USA. This limits the value of the book for other countries, like the UK.

The aim of the book is to “Give a Biblical approach to the aging imperative faced by the church and our communities” (pp18-19). Further chapters discuss why the church is not more involved with the challenge of an increasingly aging population. The writers affirm that “The Aging church is not an accident. It is God himself who has granted longer life for his purposes, and we believe that elders hold the keys to solving many, if not most of society’s problems” (p33). The writers accept the view that seniors have lost status in American society. This view is well illustrated.

However, there is much in the book to encourage Elders to find solutions for individuals and groups. “The Christian Elder has no vocabulary for retirement. The journey is never completed this side of eternity” (p68).

Later chapters describe many of the mental and physical problems faced by elderly people, and how they may be tackled. Our physical death and dying has its own chapter.

Of several appendices there are two of particular interest to UK readers. One is a personal appraisal; the other is a valuable scheme for a church survey for the elderly. The index at the end is comprehensive.

Being an active member of an aging village congregation I found parts of the book very helpful indeed. For anyone coping with a congregation including many seniors there is much to encourage. The biblical foundation for action is clearly stated (they have even counted 175 references to the elderly in the Bible). Many examples of successful activities are provided.