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Ministering to Senior Adults in Challenging Times

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Ken Allen

Well, it is good to have you here today and we’re gonna officially start this morning. And again, we wanna make the most of our time today. I’m grateful for you being here again. My name’s Ken Allen with the office of Leader Care and Church Health. And again, on behalf of our director, Mike Jackson, we’re glad that you could be a part of these series of webinars. Eileen Mitchell is here with us today. And she in our facility handles a Senior Adult. And we’re so grateful that you’re here today Eileen. And we’re it seems like these days, we’re seeing each other more on screens than we are in person. But if you would Eileen, by the way, I will lead us in prayer and Eileen, after that, I’ll give it to you and you can introduce our panelist today.

All right, father, again, this day, we’re grateful Lord for the, the ministries that you have for us all, who are participating today, we’re grateful Lord as Alabama Baptist, that we can come together either weekly or next month biweekly, and just be able to talk through issues related to church life and these challenging times that we’re living in. And so God, I pray you’d be with us today you give wisdom direction and guidance. Thank you for the folks who are, who are joining us and their lives and ministries. Father, so again, may this time they used for your honor and you for your glory. Christ’s name, we pray, amen. Eileen.

Eileen Mitchell

Yes, good morning everyone. We’re so glad that you decided to join us today and talking about the favorite group of folks in the church, senior adults. And I have a great panel to help answer some of those questions and tell you what’s been going on in their neck of the woods. I think that’s somebody’s phrase, anyway, I want to introduce to you Eloise Crossly. Eloise and her husband, Bob serve at First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Alabama. And they have done great ministry. And I’m looking forward to hearing what’s been happening during these days. We have Ronnie Mc Carson, who is at Cottage Hill Baptist church in Mobile. And we have Bob Smith who is at First Baptist Church of Trustful. Each of these have done great ministry through the years, I knew that you would want to hear from them, and so they’re going to share with us in that order, Eloise, Ronnie and Bob. Their first going to share with us about what’s been going on in their particular church. Some of maybe the activities that they’ve done, some of the ministry, and then, I’ll have some other questions for them, Eloise.

Eloise Crossley

Well first of all we decided that we were gonna do drive in. And we were very, very successful, in drive in. We also decided that we were gonna go online which was very very successful. They enjoyed being at home. They enjoyed nine o’clock with our online and they enjoyed the fact that I didn’t have to get up, get out just drink and coffee and enjoy their family as they’re online. And then we decided later on that we would open our church.

Eileen Mitchell

And so when did you enter back into the church?

Eloise Crossley

About three weeks ago, we decided that we’re going to do all the safety procedures. And we had a list of those that we were going to follow, and such as mask, and we had gloves, we had sanitizers, we had every other other pew we did not do and we said families you can sit together. But we suggest that the others would do the six-feet in between each other. And so we did every other pew and we have a balcony also, so we accommodated those by doing distance.

Eileen Mitchell

Well, what were some of the things that you did during the time when you were at drive in church or online, how did you minister to the senior adults in your church?

Eloise Crossley

Okay our drive in was actually a worship service. We did mostly the senior adults really enjoyed the drive in. And it was a cool morning. We did it at nine o’clock, so they could sit in their car and tune in on the radio and they actually enjoyed the drive in. But we thought, well, maybe when it gets a little hotter that we might need to do something else. So we actually had our every Sunday at nine, doing the online. And the online is they can pull it up on the webpage. They can pull it up on Facebook. And the majority of our people are know how to do the online. So we have had good, good response from having online.

Ronnie McCarson

Basically when all this happened, we as a staff called the entire membership of our church. That’s a lot of people, but we divided them up and we called everybody to just touch base with them and let them know what we’re going to be doing as far as going on on the internet and the church app and so forth. It was a good way also to find out people had moved and that their phone numbers were no longer in service and so forth. So it was a good way to kind of clean up the roles a little bit and so forth. But anyway, we call them and I think they appreciate you getting a call from a staff members. I didn’t call all my, it was not age oriented. So I had some of my youth, people calling senior adults our youth staff, so it was a good thing. We set up Zoom meetings for our 55 plus leadership, which was new for me and new for them. But they have been attending those Zoom meetings regularly. I don’t have one every week unless I have something to tell them. And so, but I have almost every week.

I think the one thing that has been for us, if you have care group leaders in your life groups or Sunday school classes or whatever you call them, we were utilized in our care group leaders to convey it’s better than one teacher having to call 50 people. If you were having a care group leader that has five or six members that they’re in charge of that they would be making them aware of the things that I was making their leaders aware on the Zoom meetings, to keep that up to date and that way, whether they had internet or not, they were getting a phone call from their care group leader to update them on what’s going on. Missions was kept at the forefront. I just had this horrible feeling that not only did they feel isolated, but they weren’t gonna do anything. And so we tried to keep missions in their minds all the time. And, and Allen probably knows about this. We talk about it. But we did a project called Seniors Loving on Seniors, which was to all Cottage Hill Christian Academy graduates.

They got handwritten letters of wisdom about life to the graduating seniors, and then just to the graduating seniors that attend our church. We sent them a letter on their behalf from me stating some of the things that I thought that would be a beneficial to them plus a $15 gift card from Chick-fil-A, so they loved that. Home-bound members were contacted on a regular basis, still are doing that. I’m just trying to jump through these real quick. I have been teaching an Explore the Bible, Bible study class every Sunday morning on my Facebook page. And it has been averaging over 400 hits every Sunday morning. Which is more than I have in that So, I’m going viral. So anyway, but so I teach that every Sunday morning to keep them in their lessons and the, we did have an Easter drive in service. And then finally, the church, the other meal delivery ministry, we have a meal delivery ministry. That’s been here at church for over 30 years. That never stopped, and they threatened it.

Some of our senior adults threatened us, if we tried to stop it. We weren’t going to stop at anyway, but they were, they were, we’re committed to driving and delivering those meals Monday through Friday. And then finally, of course, we were on YouTube, Facebook, Church App and offered help from our tech staff to senior adults who had trouble getting online or anything else. Our tech staff was offering to help anybody who needed help.

Bob Smith

Well, everything they’ve said basically we did. We, not done the in service. But we’ve done just about everything else. We, we began with, I enlisted 75 of my senior adults to call all of our, we have about 750, 800 senior adults total. You know, the FBI couldn’t find a third of them. We ended up, but we, we called them every week for eight straight weeks. We called them every week and I rotated the list so that you’d call this week. Next week, you’d call another family. So that hopefully through the course of eight weeks, you could have the opportunity to talk to almost every, every senior adult, at least different folks could talk to them. Cause I might have one perspective on speaking with someone, someone else have another.

So we rotated them and all the volunteers, we send out weekly newsletters. We do a monthly newsletter, anyway, we just set out a weekly one to everybody on our email list. And we carried, DVDs to all of our seniors of all of our services. Cause we’re like everybody else. We’re on online, Church App, Facebook Live. All of those kinds of things are there, but there are folks that don’t have it. We surveyed the very beginning, they were about 75 that did not have access to internet in the, in our group. So that’s roughly 10% of them didn’t have access. So we started making copies of DVDs of our services, as well as all three of the curriculums, Master Works, Explore the Bible, Bible Study for Life. All of those, we made DVDs of everything so that we could just, they could either come by and pick it up or we would deliver them to them.

But very quickly, family members made sure they, they figured out how to get online. So first week we had a bunch, next week we had a less and we still have one that, that doesn’t get online and he lives 25 miles away. And I still try to take it to him occasionally, but that’s, that’s another whole story. But about 60% of our senior adult classes are we call ourselves seasoned adults, not senior adults. There’s a whole story behind that. A lot of our folks don’t like the term senior adults, as some of y’all know what I mean by that, but we’ve got about 60% either having a zoom or or teams meeting for Sunday School every week. And we’re not planning on starting Sunday School back probably till late August, as it stands now, that’s kind of where, we’re what we’re looking at. We have a four Thursday lunch every month and have guests and so forth. So we, we decided we do a weekly lunch and do it live stream. So every Thursday for up until last week, we invite invite special guests.

We had Mickey Bell, who’s a local guy that came in and entertained. We had Frank Jones when we had the wake up prayer, We had Glenn Shepherd who’s has a prayer ministry that came and did we brought, we brought in by video, The Kempter Family, Three on a String is a popular local group. We brought them in live on stage, Babbie Mason lives in Atlanta, we call Babbie and Babbie came over and did a concert for us, one Thursday. We had a local guy that’s a retired television anchor, Ken Last, that was here in the area. And he, he did a segment every week called being SAM-sational for Jesus Christ. Again, taking SAM Seasoned Adult Ministry, being SAM-sational for Jesus Christ. And present–

Eileen Mitchell

Tell them how that worked. Cause, the people were not in the room with them. This was all videoed, right?

Bob Smith

Well when we had Babbie and we had the Kempter’s and we had Three on a String, we brought them in. We paid to have them come.

Eileen Mitchell

There were none of your seniors were there.

Bob Smith

There were pictures of all of our seniors. Pictures of all the seniors on, on the pews, and those are all gone now. Cause we’re back in services now. We’re in three services, eight, 9:30, 11. And we’re averaging about 45, 50% of our total attendance right now. In the senior adult category, it’s probably about that as well. Cause there’s some I mean, my wife has stage four breast cancer and she’s not coming out for what I don’t want her to come out. I want to stay right where she is. And, and we we’ve, we’ve gone through that process there by trying to say, some of you need to stay safer at home. But you know, we expect to start back in, in August. We do have this week, we have a big car show that we have scheduled for the 20th, we have it’s outdoors. We’re having our next luncheon on the 25th, which will we’ll provide box lunches for everybody. And we’re going to do it outside under a shady spot. So we’ve got trips scheduled in August and September and trying to get back on track to the, to the normal quote, whatever normal is is we move out of this.

Eileen Mitchell

Now Eloise mentioned that they have, they were already back in the sanctuary. You guys started this last week, Bob.

Bob Smith

Two weeks

Eileen Mitchell

Two weeks and Ronnie have y’all started–

Ronnie McCarson

We’re two weeks in.

Eileen Mitchell

Okay so how is that going? Are people listening? I’ve heard one church that they said they did fine as far as the seating, but when they were dismissed, they didn’t follow any rules. So how’s that going?

Bob Smith

We have three services and, and we have them, there are 50 minutes service nine, and then about a 40 minute time to clean. We wipe down every Pew afterwards, spray down everything. And we’ve asked them to show up 15 minutes prior. We don’t open the doors for 15 minutes prior. So at 7:45, we opened the doors. And as you can imagine, senior adults predominantly attend the eight o’clock service. It’s the more traditional one. And by 7:15, they’re standing outside waiting. You know, that’s just the way it is But they’ve tried to get close to 7:45. Our two other services are more contemporary in feel, but there’s a lot of folks that go to those.

A lot of senior goes to go to those well and you know, families can sit together and they sit together, but after they get through that, it’s hard. You’re hard pressed to find much social distancing. I will say that they’re a little further apart, but the reality of six feet is tough. And there, there may be two feet apart. That’s what I see for the most part, in our church. And what’s interesting is that in the first service, there’s probably 70% of our people wearing mask. It’s more traditional, in the second service. There’s probably 40% of our people wearing mask in the last service, there’s probably 15% of our people wearing masks. Younger. That last service is the most, the youngest group. They don’t want them and they are just not wearing them. Ronnie.

Ronnie McCarson

We started back one of the things that has happened during this time, is we have replaced our pews with chairs, and if you know the size of our sanctuary, that was a big ordeal. So it was a blessing that we didn’t have people here on campus to do all that. But yet, again, of course the pandemic wasn’t a blessing. But we have made that transformation. Now with that in mind, we, rope off every other pew. We put, we tape them off and so they’ll sit in row one, three, five, seven, nine so they’ve got that space between them. Families can sit together, like Bob said, but there’s three chairs between you and the next person, that’s not a family member. So families, and then three chairs or individual three chairs and so forth. And we’ve been running about 50%, nine o’clock service, nine and 10:30, both services are the same. We’re, we’re pretty much a contemporary nail, but, you know, whatever you want to call it. But anyway, so yeah, probably more of our more people do come to 10 30 to nine o’clock. So we’ve been doing–

Exit strategy, they are told, we love you, but you gotta leave, okay. And so after the nine o’clock service, we say, please exit the building and you can fellowship out in the parking lot or outside the doors, but we have things that we need to do to get rid, get ready for the next service. And they’ve been good about that. Now, after the 10:30 service, they can stand around and do what they want to and like Bob said, some of them do the, six foot rule. Some of them are not. There’s masks that are being worn It’s amazing, some of them this past Sunday, I didn’t see hardly any mask. There were some, but those that did wear the mask would take them off during the worship service and put them back on when they got ready to leave. So was when I looked at them, I didn’t see many people wearing masks during the actual service. I reckon they just wanted to get through the crowd and then sit down or whatever or whatever. But that’s, you know, a mask is not mandatory, but we have had some that were so.

Eileen Mitchell

Hi, Eloise, have you all been singing in worship?

Eloise Crossley

Yes, we have we have praise team and we’ve been there, we have not had the choir.

Eileen Mitchell

But you’ve had congregational singing. I know that’s.

Eloise Crossley

Yes, that always begins with our worship service and we do sing and they enjoy that and by the way, we did take away the song book. We were told that it was best not to have anything. So we took away Bibles and the songbooks, and we do have it on PowerPoint, but they bring their own Bible anyway. So we were very careful. And even after they leave the service we make sure, that a fog machine and we make sure that we sanitize our building wherever, they’ve been. So we do have singing and they enjoy that.

Eileen Mitchell

Okay, and your I’ve heard several of you mentioned that you’ve had Zoom small group meetings or Sunday School life groups, whatever you might call them. So y’all been doing that. Has that gone Well?

Eloise Crossley

Yes. Some of them enjoy their Zoom meeting and they had their Bible study by Zoom. That was when we did not have Bible study. Now we’re opening up Would you like me to share that?

Anyway, we are going to they are not meeting every week? We decided that the building did not need to be completely full. So we divided up the amount such as this Bible Study would meet first and third. And these Bible Studies would meet second and fourth. And we gave them the option, do you want to meet? Now we do have a few that I decided that they do not want to meet this month. They wanna wait till next month. And these were senior adults. And they wanted to wait they’re still doing online and they’re doing the worship online and they have their own Bible Study group. And we delivered, and the Bible study teachers delivered the Bible study to them, and so they have that, and so they have that. And those that, well we do the CDs to to the senior adults who do not have online. So we are making sure that they are all involved in some way or the other.

Eileen Mitchell

Okay, and Bob, you said you’re starting your small groups back in August?

Bob Smith

That’s the plan.

Eileen Mitchell

As far as meeting in the facility?

Bob Smith

Meeting in the facility. And right now that from an attendance standpoint, the biggest reason we have people aren’t coming senior adults don’t want to come because they’re afraid of the exposure of sickness. Young folks are coming cause we don’t, we’re not offering childcare right now. And I, you know, but once childcare is offered, that’ll change the perspective on lots of things as it relates to the, to the other–

Eileen Mitchell

How about you Ronnie?

Ronnie McCarson

Yeah we start, we start our 55 plus just 55 plus life groups back on July the fifth. And so what we’re doing is they are actually getting a account based on July the 12th, okay? Because some people will be out of town on the fifth> If not, are you coming on the 12th and give me that total number, then we’re going to set their rooms up. If they can fit in that room. Now, since it’s just us, we can move around a little bit for the time being. But so they’ll start July the fifth. We’ve gotten pretty good response. I’ve been very surprised at how many are coming back and you will still have some that will stay at home for awhile but, the children and the young adults, Bible study classes involved children will not start back until school starts back. So we’re kind of waiting and seeing, because like Bob said, we’re not, we’re brought providing childcare for him until that time.

Eileen Mitchel

And will that be Sundays? That Bible study.

Ronnie McCarson

Yes, yes, in the morning. Than just like nine o’clock.

Eileen Mitchell

Or another day during the week, okay. What about your onsite? You know, that’s what everybody’s asking. When are we going to start back our fourth Thursday or second Tuesday or potluck or whatever so Ronnie, what are y’all saying about that?

Ronnie McCarson

Funny you should mention. Have that, we actually start, we’re starting tomorrow and we have a Caleb men’s group that’s designed just for me on 55 plus a Caleb Bible study group or topic group of things that men 55 plus would experience. That’s going to start tomorrow morning at eight o’clock. And then right after at 10 o’clock, we’ll have our game time. We have one time where we get together and just play games and get mad at each other, And you know, stuff like that. And so we’ll start that. The funny thing about this again is just this distancing. But it’s also gonna affect your ability to be able the food issue, food and drinks. You’re still gonna have an issue with that. You used to on the game time Everybody brings a potluck and it’s like a smorgasbord and so forth. And that can’t happen right now. So we’re asking them to bring their own snacks and their own lunch bag. And then we’ll have one person to pour the coffee or one person to pull the tea. It’s really weird stuff, but that’s the way it’s gotta be. Plus when they play games whether they’re playing dominoes or Face10 or whatever, they’re going to have to wear gloves. Cause there’s no difference in them handling cards or dominoes than it is passing the offering plate on Sunday morning, which we didn’t mention that a while ago, the offering, we have offering a drop-boxes now as they leave the sanctuary. Of course, a lot of them are given online, but a lot of them still do the old fashioned way. And so we have that. So we’re starting tomorrow.

Bob Smith

Ours is coming up in a week, a week from Thursday and we’re providing box lunches for everybody and serving water. So, but ours is outside, we made it outside. So that outside the perception is it’s a little easier to social distance. Than when you are in a gym or a fellowship hall.

Eileen Mitchell

Eloise, what about at Jacksonville?

Eloise Crossley

We do not think our seniors adults are ready yet because we, we call them and we see who’s in worship and we see who’s online. And we’ve been talking about what are we going to do? Because we usually a buffet, we have a good speaker music and we have outstanding speakers such as Eileen Mitchell And anyway, we’re not gonna do a buffet. When we did start that, which is not within the next few weeks. We will probably have a plate prepared for them by the lady that works in our kitchen. And then we’ll, we will not have that many people handling the food, nor carrying the food. We have not started back yet. We have not started back. Whatever we all do.

Bob Smith

The dynamics are different too. If you’re our group is a large group, if you cut in half, that’s still a lot of folks. So we’re, we’re probably going to be at half of what we normally would run, but that’s still a lot of folks. So we’re going, to try to move forward with as many things as we can and just do what we can for those that can. Those that can come.

Eileen Mitchell

And the same thing with your trips. I hear you’re having trips in the fall that you’re still planning.

Bob Smith

I’ve got, I’ve got a trip to the arc in August, I’ve got a trip to Lake Yale down in Florida, for their Senior Fest that’s rescheduled that we were planning to go in April–

Eileen Mitchell

And I know when I talked to you Bob, you said that you’re having to increase the number of buses you take for the social distancing issue.

Bob Smith

It’s hard to social distance on a bus. It’s virtually impossible. The only thing we’re doing is we are offering packages that do not include transportation so that folks can go and join up with the group and they provide their own transportation. So if a couple wants to go like our Arc trip, if you start looking at what it costs for a bus it’s about 75, $80 a person to ride a bus. If you, if you charter a bus, that’s part of the fun of a trip is the bus ride. So I don’t know how it’s going to work. I mean, that fellowship that you get on the bus is some of the best times I can remember all of my life. Not only as a senior adult, but as a student and back doing student ministry. That’s a big part of it, but there’s not a lot of choice. The who does all of our charters for us. You know, they’ve said they will give us, we can pay for a 40 passenger, they’ll give us a 60 passenger bus. And it gives you a little room, but still even on a 40 passenger, you’re lucky to get 25 people on it. So the cost is it’s going to get tough, and they can’t do any more than they’re doing, or they’ll go out of business. And that’s not, that’s not fair to them either.

Ronnie McCarson

We had have a trip to Andy Griffith Land and North Carolina, then switch over to Billy Graham’s in Charlotte, then come down to, to Savannah and Charleston in October. Bob, I don’t know, from a bus standpoint, I’m only kind of see what it does by then, because I can’t afford to take two buses. And we have a full bus full, but I’m just going to, I’m going to try to wait and see what they’re, we don’t know, that’s a whole thing. None of us know what the future holds. I mean, we know who holds the future, but we, from this pandemic situation, we don’t need to know how that was. One of the things I’m gonna talking about. How it’s gonna affect our future. But so I’m just gonna do the best I can with a bus and make sure it’s cleaned. And I may require them to wear a mask on the bus. I mean, if I have to take one bus, do all that I can to keep it clean and sanitized and so forth. But I’ll just have to wait and make that decision when it gets closer to the time but we can’t do anything local ministry-wise with our mini buses, because, you know, what are you going to do? Put three people, four people in them, five people. So it’s really going to affect our ministries going forward, getting out of the building.

Bob Smith

Yeah, the trip thing too, cleaning the bus each day is a is a problem. Because the companies that we’re dealing with, I’ve asked them, do you have a way that sanitize, say at night for the next morning? And they really not set up for that. And they don’t have the ability to do that. So that’s something we’ll have to take on ourselves to do, which is fine, we can do that. But I’m not sure how effective our cleaning will be, but we’ll have to make the due diligence and, and deal with it. That’s the best you can do.

Eileen Mitchell

Are any of y’all doing temperature, checks? Anything we do temperature check every morning when we come to work.

Bob Smith

We had that discussion in staff meeting about the, the temperature checks. The problem we’re having is that, we bought some nice, some expensive stuff, and we get different readings within three or four minutes of each other. And it’s just hard to say, I’m gonna keep you out of here when there’s not a consistent level of temperature that can be established because, we they’ve done a child. And then three minutes later done the child again, and the temperature can be two or three degrees difference. And so it’s, we just made a decision that that’s not a route we would go at this present time.

Ronnie McCarson

We have not done it, but we make sure that they don’t have to touch anything. The doors are open when they get there and they can walk straight to their chair. So we made sure that that kind of stuff, temperature thing, just we discussed it, but we just, it was kind of more of a thing. We didn’t want to scare people and stuff you know, anything that would lead to a problem.

Bob Smith

Our weekday program is opening up this week and they went and purchased the, the shields, the plastic shields that come down, they come down to here that are see-through and they’re, they’re much less scary to the, like a dentist uses or a doctor surgeon uses when they do surgery. And they’ve bought a bunch of those for all of their workers, because they do not want the covering. They want them to be able to see their face.

Eileen Mitchell

Yeah and as a senior adult, I’ve noticed, I don’t hear as well with people talking through a mask. It’s very muffled sounding. So that could be an issue. Eloise. How about y’all are y’all doing any kind of temperature checks or?

Eloise Crossley

We got to give them the temperature check because you know, we tried real hard to do like a first service, the first worship service. I would say the majority of them had on masks and did not seem to, you know, with our pride, I guess, I don’t know what, what happens. I just didn’t want to do the mask. And so they would like halfway do the masks, the next worship service, and then the third worship service it was, you know, very few, but they were doing social distancing. So we have not tried the temperature because we felt like it was a personal type thing. But if you go to the doctor, when we go into the dental, they did do the temperature and did the checks, but we have not done the temperature thing yet.

Bob Smith

Our biggest concern, our pastor is very strong on, there are photo opportunities galore for people who want to put a negative light on the church. And so we’re trying to approach everything from the light of our witness, in our testimony. Cause that’s a big, and that’s so hard. Cause there are people out there looking for opportunities to slam the church, especially us in, you know, we’re in a small town and a big church in a small town and whatever we do, whatever we do, kind of sets the stage for other people to say, well First Baptist is doing.

Ronnie McCarson

I’ll tell you one thing one thing that I want to bring up here is cause we have some pastors that are here, but if you’re not conveying to your people, all that you’re doing to clean your facilities, to make it safe, your people are not going to come back. I mean, if they’re, I mean, if you have some diehards that will, that will be there. But I think it behooves all of us to make sure people hear and hear and hear what we’re doing to clean our facilities between times so that they may feel a little bit more comfortable about coming back because my church is doing this to make sure it’s ready.

Eileen Mitchell

That’s great. I like What Eloise held up, that paper that they had for everybody.

Eloise Crossley

What we actually did is we did a video and we let them see the video of how we wanted the, this particular pew or that and we were not doing the Bible and opening the doors. We gave them a video to look at and see how we were protecting them. And we also have the fog machine. So we have tried very hard, like as the sanitizing, were giving them sanitizer, wipes we’ve done everything that we could to let the know that if you come here, you are protected against that.

Eileen Mitchell

That’s a good point.

Bob Smith

The biggest complaint we have is there is no coffee in the building on Sunday. The biggest complaint we have.

Ronnie McCarson

And even that touch though, but I mean, everybody can’t go up there and pour their coffee. So I mean, so where you have an open area where people come and get their own, the other studies were over with for right now, or you going to have to have one hostess that pours the coffee for everybody.

Bob Smith

Right. And puts the cream and sugar out in, in one at a time for them to get. So they can reach into a package and grab out sugar and stuff.

Ronnie McCarson

Like the Lord’s supper and stuff.

Ken Allen

Eileen if I can just interject for a moment, a lot of what I’m hearing are some good practical things that are going on. About half of our churches, half the folks that are listening are in churches that are 250 and under in half or 250 and older over. And again, some of the great practical things I’ve heard so far, and some of these are subtle like the delivery of a Sunday School Literature, or a book or quarterly, even the class that I’m involved with, same thing happened. I think the teacher’s life or some, someone like that delivered it to our door, put it there, telling us in advance of that, that would happen. The box lunch again is a very practical thing to do. Along with a just there would be one person serving or two that would be serving people in the future. Look, these are things guys that are going to be with us until, until this is over, whatever that is. And then things that are done outside, I believe it opens more people up to being there than indoors. So anything you can do like that. Again, y’all mentioned the trips, something you can do locally that everyone maybe could drive to could be also something that, that might happen. And you mentioned the, the mask Ronnie, and I think that’ll be a good question too. We’ve heard so much about mask. I’d love just to get some final answer on this will help. If you have a mask on and you have it, then it will keep others from getting it. And just to be able to get that could really be a help in, on trips and things such as that. So thank you–

Eileen Mitchell

Another thing that was mentioned that I think is very practical is doors open. Or that, so that people do not have to the less they have to touch the better. And so I think that’s a great help.

Ken Allen

Absolutely, great stuff. How have you all come across any who are having trouble with the technology? And haven’t been able to give them an answer to their technology issue, whether it be smartphone heard earlier, a DVD being taken, whatever it is, what are some of y’all answers to tech issues?

Bob Smith

Well, let me just say quickly, our pastor have said to our it team, anybody that calls help them. When we’d been helping tons of churches, the IT team trying to help them get stuff done. It’s been good.

Ronnie McCarson

Yeah, Bob, and that’s the thing that we need to those churches that are maybe watching today that need help. But we have helped our team as well, also help other churches to broadcast, to help things that they were learning, how to do. We’re here for you guys as well. So if we can ever be of any help to you guys, please let us know as well.

Bob Smith

in Birmingham area call First Baptist Trustful ask for Bob.

Ken Allen

Specifically with your senior adults, have you hadn’t had calls that they’ve had trouble and what has been the answer to the specific senior adults? Again, some of our churches may be in a rural area that it’s just more difficult, technologically.

Bob Smith

The secret for senior adults is call your grandchild. Call your friend’s grandchild. Cause that’s, the way they get it because they know, and they can do it a lot quicker. Especially if they’re in family. Part of the problem we had in when we started was you couldn’t even go to their home. We had people, who said, we’ll send you a DVD. We don’t have a DVD player. We don’t have internet and you couldn’t send anybody inside the house. But if you can get family members to do it, that’s the way that it’s got to be done.

Ronnie McCarson

It’s the first time in history that grandparents have had to, had to ask grandchildren how to do something. So tech wise, we’re going to have to depend on them. But the one thing I learned to we tried to do, but didn’t really get off the ground, was to set a call-in on Bible Study. Where they could call the church. It’s just like dial up a Children’s Bible Story. We were going to have a call-in Bible, Explore the Bible. What I was doing was going to be on the telephone where those that didn’t have internet could call the church, at least do that. But as far as watching the church services, like Bob said, some of them don’t have CDs, whatever. And–

Eloise Crossley

Sunday is a to show them how to text, how to text to get information, how to text if they needed us to tell them, you know, whatever’s happening and they like to text so the ones that could text even to show them how to text in for the finances. And we actually did that. Open-end church showing them with, with the phone itself. And those that did not have an internet, could just out. They do have some, and we know that they have the DVD player. And so we’ve taken the daily to them. We’re trying any way that we can, texts, DVDs whatever to make sure all of our people are staying connected.

Ken Allen

Let me give you a couple of questions that have come in. And one of these was one that I’ve written down too in case we had time. One of them is do yours and just to get through these next, maybe 10 or 15 minutes, we’ll make it as succinct as possible with our answers. So do your seniors have a church Facebook page? And if so, is this more effective than email newsletters?

Eloise Crossley

We have a Facebook page. And we can see how many views we have and where were they surprised that it’s much more than even the views of our church and they are using Facebook. And they get the video, I guess their worship service, they get the Wednesday, Devotion. So they can get it at Facebook. And we do have Facebook.

Bob Smith

My approach is a trotline effect, not a hook on, you know, put out as many hooks out there as you can get. As many opportunities, whether it’s Facebook, whether it’s an app, whether it’s a website, whether it’s a newsletter, whether it’s a phone call, you’ve got to do them all. You got to do them all. And even if it’s redundant in some families, you just gotta do them all.

Ronnie McCarson

Also utilizing your care group members as well. So that’s a live touch.

Eloise Crossley

In calling and we do a lot on calling. And that way we get either the sickness in any of those who are being hospitalized, who are facing deaths. So the calling, everybody knows everything. So when we called and let us know, we see, who’s going to the hospital–

Ken Allen

was from the very beginning was, was a big thing. Again, one of the questions I had and Larry asked this, any tips on seniors experiencing isolation issues. That was one of the things that I had down here as a question. The mental issues that you’re seeing as a result of the isolation and just being inside and away from people.

Eloise Crossley

We have home bound people. And we have people in nursing home, and I have tried to those personally. And I just make some funny things about, such as one of the ladies, I call her and I’d say, are you ready for that hummingbird cake? I’m ready to pick it up. And you know, she’d laugh. I just call them because they do feel bad because they’re isolated, they’re isolated in their room. And it’s like a assisted living. So we do have those that we tried to talk to and have contact with them because we know that they have a little depressed feeling. And we do try to do that.

Ronnie McCarson

I think one of the things that is happening, a lot of people don’t know that in some of these facilities, they won’t even let them out of their rooms. And they’re in their rooms all the time. And so I, have given my leadership and the care group leader strict instructions that when they contact their people and they sense there is that isolation issue or whatever it may be that they call me immediately. And let me know that so that I can call them, I will call them, assess the situation to see if it needs to go any further. But that personal touch when they call them and they were having a down day, I talk to them because I can try to, try to brighten their day and cut up with them a little bit, so forth and assess each situation. So as they’re calling them, they’re gonna let me know if there’s some issues that they can sense.

Ken Allen

And this is where Senior Adult Ministry can come into play, where senior adults are ministering to senior adults. Some of your younger folks in the church can get on the phone as well. And, and they can hear from each other during that time as well. And that was good Ronnie, just to keep people going. Bob, go ahead.

Bob Smith

Philosophically if you understand what scripture says, it’s not our job to do all the work. It’s our job to challenge others to do the work. That’s really what we’re having to do. You know, we’ve got a bunch of folks that are sitting in home, let’s let’s utilize them. So that’s where our focus has been. We tried to do through this entire process. Let us channel folks to do the right things and do all the things that need to be done, involve as many people as you can, because involvement right now is at a different level and in a different perspective than it’s ever been for all of us.

Ken Allen

Yeah and, and again, with both pastor, staff and volunteers and senior adults and young folks, if you spread out the folks that are isolated, and then see to make a call and say, I’d like to come to your sidewalk, or I’d like to come to your driveway or whatever, and pray with you from outside. Make it to where they feel like they’re comfortable with it. Kind of get the permission ahead of time. So they see someone personally there that’s taking the time to come. It’s going to be a wonderful thing in the long run, especially with those that are isolated. My, my wife’s parents are there they’re 78 years old. And we’ve gone about, I think about three different times and been in the garage or in the backyard, just trying to keep connected. And certainly here saw there’s day coming up and all that’s going on. We need to do our best to, again, to, to bridge that gap in there. Eileen I know that there was a one or two other things that you and I talked about leading up to this.

Eileen Mitchell

Yeah, I’m just wondering, we’re not in post COVID by any means, but what, what do you think you’ve learned from this experience that maybe you weren’t practicing or utilizing before that you thought, man, that really is effective and I’m glad that this happened so that I learned this. I mean, not that we’re glad for the pandemic, as we’ve said but, just experience.

Bob Smith

Zoom, Zoom. Zoom is the biggest thing that our people have learned. Giving online, a lot of our senior adults were scared to death to give online. Now they’re doing it and they love it and they’re going to be able to do it. And I don’t know how the other guys are, but our offerings are actually ahead of where they were at the same point last year, our total giving. That’s just a testimony of the faithfulness for God’s people. But those are the things that I think our folks have learned is that there are ways without having to go to the building all the time. You don’t have to have a piece of printed paper in front of you. And they’re learning to do that. And I think they’ll be better for it in the long run.

Eloise Crossley

Well, what we’ve learned a lot about is technology and how to do it, what to do and how to do it. And, and that’s been good for all of us. And we’ve also learned sanitizing and we did clean our building, but we have not cleaned it, like we cleaned it recently. And so we’re going to have to do extra clean and, we always have the flu and other types of things that come up. So we’re gonna probably extra clean our facilities more than we used to.

Ronnie McCarson

I think like Bob said, Zoom has been a great thing to, if anything has taught our seniors, how to get into technology. Has taught us more to get out and get into technology. If we can figure out how to get on a Zoom meeting anyway, but that is, is the thing. But also I think the importance of a care group ministry. If you’re, if your life groups and character, what a Sunday School group, whatever you call them are not divided into five or six people, and one person is in charge. When things like this come up, heaven forbid we have to go back into something else, you’ve got people in that you can share the load with. And it’s very important. They become their ministers in times like these, that one person becomes in charge, minister for five or six people, and then they can help us get ministry accomplished.

Bob Smith

It was this morning in the brief staff meeting I was in. Pastor Buddy said that one expression was given to him that he thought was interesting, he said, I don’t one of our members said I don’t come to church just for worship. The bigger part for me is fellowship. And I think that’s one of the things we’re going to have to figure out a way to do that differently than we’ve ever done before, that’s a big challenge for us. Whether you’re a big church, a small church, country church, city church, it’s all going to be different for us.

Ronnie McCarson

I think Eileen or Ken, if that’s one of the things we want to touch base, what is the future going to look like? Our ministries, how we do ministry, but missions, ministries. My, groups are so, I do one mission project hands on mission project a month. And then we do one fun thing a month. But our mission, our choir, we’re so used to going out and singing in nursing homes and all that, it’s going to shut us down. As far as that, are we going to have to find out some other way that we can accomplish missions and we’ve got to go, it’s going to be interesting. And I don’t think anybody has an answer right now, but it will be interesting to see how we can get those things accomplished in the future.

Eloise Crossley

Yeah, that’s something that’s really effected us because man, we can’t go to the nursing home because we used to go there and give them a birthday party. We used to go to the jail and minister to the women and you know, I don’t know all of those are out. And we used to sing, at different nursing homes, assisted living, and we haven’t been able to do that. And because they’re all closed, they wouldn’t even let us in the hospital. So we’re gonna have to, I mean, this is something that is really affecting all of us and figure out some way or another that we can be mission other than the other way that we do do it.

Ken Allen

Yeah and again, the thing that struck me at the beginning of this process are the guys, the churches that really started thinking outside the box. And they were the ones that were really being able to get into the curve and not behind the curve. And that’s what the future, at least until something really radically changes with the virus. That’s, that’s going to be the big thing is, thinking outside the box, how can we get information to people? How can we touch people in a new way? How can we do missions in a new way? And that’ll be vital to, to being able to progress for this next months or year, whatever it may be. That’s going to be a key, key thing.

Eileen Mitchell

Ken, Could I say that anybody who has been on this call as a participant, if they have questions or if they have other ideas or things that would be good to share with others, if they could communicate that with me so that I can try to get that information out to people. People are always looking for a new idea or a proven method that worked for them. So our, our website, or you can contact me through emitchell@alsbom.org and we’d love to try to try to get that information out.

Ken Allen

Thank you Eileen. Again it’s so great to have you guys with us today. Thank you, Eileen. Thank you, Eloise. Thank you, Bob. Thank you, Ronnie. Appreciate your input so much are ministries. We have as Eileen and I were originally talking about this. When you think about churches, many of our churches are Senior Adult Churches. So the pastor is a Senior Adult Minister. And so we thought this will be a valuable time together, this a valuable webinar. And so again, Eileen’s put her information up there in the chat. Anything that we can do in office leader care in church health we’d be be more than happy to answer what we can. Again, people are doing great things out mask only serve as just for senior adults or those that may be compromised. There’s all kinds of things that are going on. And it’s good for us to talk those things together. So again, thank you for being with us today. It has been an honor and privilege to be with you and to serve with you. And we hope that this has been helpful for those of you who are out there that have been listening and participating as well. Again, God bless you all. Let me lead us in a closing word of prayer. Father again, this day, we are grateful again for the Lord Jesus Christ, that we have life in him that is full and abundant and Father for those that we serve that are anxious in these times, maybe we, again, just be lifting up the Lord Jesus. He is the vine and we are the branches and God as the 23rd Psalm, the Lord is our shepherd, we shall not want. God has to provide all that is needed God in resources and in your presence. And so thank you for this time. Again, we love you in Jesus name we pray. Amen.

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