Six + One: Things Modern Church Leaders Should Know About Senior Citizens

  1.  A “wall of sound” during congregational singing renders a person with significant hearing loss unable to find the appropriate pitch so he/she can be involved in singing.
  2. Things projected on screens sometimes cause problems for those with vision loss. If print is too small, contrast is poor, or videos are of poor quality, seniors, by default, become non-participants.
  3. When instrumentalists play loudly, older congregants can’t understand the words of choir numbers.
  4. Though aging, seniors still have the awareness to recognize when the time signatures of their favorite hymns are changed so they can be sung at a “snail’s pace.”
  5. Negative effects on seniors when standing for long periods of time include aching joints, feeling faint or weak, and swollen feet. 
  6. Older congregants feel conspicuous if they are sitting while others stand.
+ 1. Senior church members need assurance that there is no substance to the rumor that our time has come to be set adrift on ice floes.


  1. I have share this with our LBA (Local Board of Administration). Thanks for sharing these insights.

    1. Secondary Roads, my hubby has always loved to sing. He is now very hard of hearing and, even though he has the latest technology in hearing aids, he still has severe hearing loss. Our church has a small, but very loud, orchestra. Even with songs he knows, he can't find the pitch. When he tries to sing, he sounds as though he might be tone deaf. On rare occasions when we sing with just the piano and organ or a short A Capella selection, he can find the pitch and sing along. I know services are not designed for one person, or even a small group of people, but it really makes Hubby's Sunday morning when he can sing even one song with the congregation.

    2. I can appreciate your Hubby's situation. Fortunately, Sylvia's hearing loss is not quite that bad.

      One of our "issues" is found in Wesleyan core values:
      CULTURAL RELEVANCE: Wesleyans are called to keep serving the present age. The Church respects and builds on its past without becoming its slave. Wesleyans are “culture informed” for the sake of reaching people for Christ, but not “culture captives,” in the sense of surrendering core values, beliefs and behaviors.

  2. Anent #6: To the contrary, I relish sitting while congregation stands. Makes me feel special. Oh, yes. I do know that the service is not about me.

    As for number five, if you feel faint, or your feet hurt, why on earth would you not sit down. F'r cryin' out loud. Oh, yeah. #6.

    1. Vanilla, I guess some people see attention as a positive - feeling special rather than conspicuous. Are those feelings acquired or learned?

    2. The truth of the matter is this: one is neither special nor conspicuous, for the congregation is engaged in worship and the sitter-downer is not noticed. If anyone does notice to the extent that they make a mental note of it, shame on them, not on the old, tired, aching person who sits.