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22 March 2010

Outlook Trust connects older Christians with 'vibrancy of youth'

Outlook Trust connects older Christians with 'vibrancy of youth'

With a strap-line 'seniors for Christ,' Outlook Trust has for the last 18 years been challenging the UK Church to integrate the gifts and experience of Christians over the age of 55 with the energy of a younger generation to form a congregation which more truly reflects the glory of God.

Outlook Trust equips, resources and enables both the young and old in evangelism to and among the over 55's through initiatives such as grandparenting, residential home visiting, bereavement groups, visiting the housebound in the community and drama presentations.

According to Director Norman Critchell, integrating older Christians into the life and ministry of the Church delivers a wonderfully counter-cultural message.

"In a society that is anti-grey where youth is glorified it gives the Church an anti-ageism message. But God thinks differently, so shouldn't we? Right from Abraham and Moses, whom God spoke to well into old age, we see the elderly being used by God is his Salvation story."

Critchell said he receives countless letters from reasonably fit, over 55's who feel sidelined in their churches in favour of youth activities. Separate youth services can segregate congregations.

Irene from Sheffield wrote, "Young people are deprived of seeing in a normal day to day fashion how mature Christians handle their lives and we, of course, are deprived of that connection with the vibrancy of youth which is so stimulating."

To counter this problem Outlook Trust created a ' Holiday at Home' DVD for churches last year. It has seen great success with one church in Ipswich organising a three-day 'holiday at home' in August, followed up with monthly coffee mornings. A number of youth in the church organised activities for the holiday such as knitting, snooker, ten-pin bowling on a Wii and armchair aerobics. They advertised the event in the community and saw around 20 new people join with a number of non-Christians now regularly attending Sunday services.