Section 4 – Meaningful Christian Activities

The Basic Goals of Christian Ministry

There are many different “faiths” in the world. This fact is undisputed. And, this reality is reflected in little ways and, probably, in big ways in your care center. The population of every facility we have ever ministered in represents a diversity of religious orientations. As we have tried to document in Section 1, this diversity is not restricted to the major world religions. In terms of the “religious comfort zone” that each one of your Christian residents has, there is an abundance of variations in liturgy, theology, knowledge, understanding, and practice of the Christian faith. In fact, we could make a case that there are as many different versions of Christianity as there are Christians living in your facility!

So…….the question is, “How do you provide Christian programing and activities that encompasses the largest percentage of your Christian residents and is meaningful to all of them?” You can approach the answer to this question from many different perspectives: there are the policies and instructions from corporate, there is input from your administrator, there is your own personal religious point of view, and you get the various orientations from your religious volunteers, to name a few. Certainly, each of these are going to have weight in your own mind as to how you would address what type of religious programing to pursue in your facility.

Keep in mind, that we are looking at this issue from a purely Christian point of view. You have Christian residents and those residents need a Christian answer to this question. In this light, the best answer, in our opinion, is to watch your Christian population and listen to what they say as an indication of how well you are meeting their needs for their spiritual well being. Having said that, below we try to outline an approach to ministering to your Christian residents that is broad in its span of Christianity but still effective on an individual basis. Please note that what exact Christian programs you implement and what specific Christian ministers from what orbit of the Christian community you invite to work with your residents is somewhat random and dependent on a lot of variables. BUT, whatever Christian programs and Christian ministers you use, the following information should be helpful in determining the mission and goals of those programs and ministry.

Four Basic Goals of Christian Ministry:

We strongly urge Christian volunteers and staff members to consider the proven facts and the timeless experience of Christians through the ages that we have tried to document in this handbook (Section 2).

As a (or the) staff member in your facility who is responsible, at least to some degree, for the occupational, recreational and religious activities of your residents, we encourage you to make a conscious commitment in your heart to seek to accommodate the real spiritual needs of the Christian nursing home residents that you strive to serve!

What follows are four major objectives of Christian ministry. There are many different tracks to follow toward the goal of effective Christian activities. But, we believe that a focus on these as guides for the content of your religious activities would enhance their effectiveness in meeting the spiritual needs of your Christian residents.

  1. Remind the residents of the faithfulness of Jesus Christ.
  2. Encourage them in their faith in Him.
  3. Tell them the “Old, Old Story” (the gospel, the “good news” of Jesus) over and over again!
  4. Pray with them.  See number 5, “Activities Focused on Prayer,” in the following section of this outline.

Tools, Programs and Activities for LTC Christian Ministry

  1. Some Tools for LTC Christian Ministry
    1. Five-Week Master Calendar
    2. The “Talk Board”
    3. Worship Service Program
    4. Chaplain Visitation Log
    5. Memorial Service Programs
    6. Church Shut-In Visitation Program
    7. Care Package Program
  2. Devotionals – Personal and Group
    1. Include opening prayer, a Christian Song or two, prayer requests followed by prayer, a Christian devotional reading, close with a short benediction. [be creative – one alternative would be to read a selection from one of the books on the stories behind the writing of the classic hymns. (e. g.: “Hymns of Faith & Inspiration”, Ideals Publications, Nashville, TN)]
    2. Devotional Resources
      1. “Our Daily Bread” – www.odb.org
      2. “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers
        For sales of this and many other really great devotional resources visit your local book store, the religious book section of your local thrift store and online at “Our Daily Bread.”
      3. Seniors’ Devotional Bible (do a simple online search for several options)
      4. “The Book of Common Prayer” – Church of England
      5. “The One Minute Bible” – John R. Kohlenberger III, Garborg’s Publishing, Bloomington, MN 55420. Available on Amazon among many other places.
      6. Devotionals for Nursing Home Ministry – Produced by Christian Concourse. Free “.PDF” downloads.
  3. Ministry to Residents with Dementia
    1. Tactile materials – “Bold Endeavors” – alzheimersministry.org
    2. Hymn-Sing-Along using the old familiar hymns of the Christian faith. Our large print Hymn Booklets and the accompanying CDs are a good source for “old familiar hymns.” Just play the CDs, offer the hymn booklet to those who can navigate them, but the tunes and the phrases in the songs that they are listening to are the triggers for their memories. Do not be overly reactive if tears well up in their eyes as they remember the faces and the times these songs represent in their thoughts. It is hard to gauge the medicinal effect some of these hymns may have on their minds and spirits, but there is little doubt that your residents suffering from demintia who have some Christian backgound will benefit from this activity.
  4. “Church Services”
    1. Begin with an Invocation prayer; sing several Christian Hymns; share a shortened sermonette; have prayer for the facility, the staff, the residents, their families, their home churches, etc.; sing a closing hymn; and give a Benediction prayer. Can include a responsive reading from Scripture and the reading of relevant poetry.
    2. Guidelines for a nursing home church service.
    3. Our large print Hymn Booklets
    4. Our large print Scripture Booklets
    5. Our Worship Service Programs
  5. Activities Focused on Prayer
    1. Prayers for special occasions. (A good source for written prayers are books by Word Ministries, Inc., http://www2.prayers.org/prayers-that-avail-much.html ). For example:
      1. Morning, Noon, Afternoon, Evening prayer.
      2. Special prayer for National holidays.
      3. Special prayer for religious holy days (Christmas, Easter, Pentecost).
      4. Special prayer in the event of local, national or world disasters.
      5. Special prayer upon the death of a resident or staff member.
    2. Establish an organized framework to facilitate prayer. Develop an activity in which prayer is the focus – a regular “prayer meeting.” Ground-rules tailored to the personalities in your group will probably be necessary. Bring before the group one or more topics for prayer, for example:
      1. Individual needs
      2. Family and friends’ needs
      3. Facility staff and owners
      4. Christian leaders, local pastors
      5. City, state and federal government officials
      6. Local police, firemen, paramedics
      7. Our military
    3. Care Center to Prayer Centerhomefreeministries.com
    4. Prayers for Seniors – by Linda Fagerland – homefreeministries.com
      Include prayer as an integral part of all Christian activities.
    5. “With Christ in the School of Prayer” by Andrew Murray.
      A reading of the book on video in 36 segments averaging 20 minutes each. We have found that some elderly Christians can better follow the reading if they are able to watch the reader on screen. Appropriate only for higher functioning Christian residents.
  6. Christian Ministry Materials
    1. Faithful Friends Nursing Home Ministry: http://www.faithfulfriends.org/
      Faithful Friends’ mission is to spread the love and message of Jesus Christ in the nursing home environment, providing support and encouragement by regular visits of caring Christians. They support other interested groups and churches with training, multimedia ministry materials, and assistance in recruiting volunteers. This is the patriarch of nursing home ministries on the web. To this site all others are compared!
    2. Lutheran Braille Workers: http://www.lbwinc.org/
      Lutheran Braille Workers (LBW) is one of the largest providers of Christian Braille and specialized Large Print in the world. Their website states that all publications by LBW are offered free of charge and are made possible through the efforts of over five thousand faithful volunteers.
    3. Sonshine Society: http://www.sonshinesociety.org/
      The Sonshine Society is an interdenominational organization whose purpose is challenging local churches and individual Christians to provide a consistent and effective Christian witness to people who, due to age or physical impairment, are unable to participate in the worship and instructional services of the Christian church. This is the premier nursing home ministry in America! They have the most comprehensive battery of resources and tools for care facility ministry in the world – all at reasonable prices! And they are really humble children of the King.
    4. God Cares Ministry: http://www.godcaresministry.net/
      This ministry is based in Northeast Ohio, working toward national exposure. God Cares Ministry exists to equip Christians to help meet the spiritual needs of people in long term care facilities by recruitment, training and support. They have extensive training materials and resources, some free and some available for purchase.
    5. Free Online Christian Clipart: http://clipart.christiansunite.com/
      The website of ChristiansUnite offers a nice collection of free Christian Clipart. Christian images here are free for your use on web sites, newsletters, church bulletins or anywhere else you can find them useful, however redistribution is prohibited. If in your work in activities you need Christian clip art this is one resource that may be of assistance.
    6. The Bible Project: https://thebibleproject.com/explore/
      Quoting from their site: “The Bible is one unified story that leads to Jesus, but we don’t always treat it that way. At The Bible Project, we make animated videos that explore the books and themes of the Bible. Explore all of our free videos and resources by book, theme, or series here.” These are mostly short, professional, illuminating clips that may prove very popular with your residents. Works best with a smart TV and internet connection at your facility. All Free to Watch Online!
    7. Free Christian Illustrations: https://freechristianillustrations.com/index.html
      Quoting from their site: “Christian allegories, illustrations and more! Free for you to use and download. This website offers free Christian Illustrations and Resources to help explain the amazing message of the Bible and aid others in their outreach ministries.” You will find illustrations, clip art, colour-ins, e-books, bookmarks, ponder posters and other resources – All Free!
  7. Games
    1. “Name That Hymn”
      Using the hymns in the booklets produced by Christian Concourse called “Favorite Hymns of Grace” and “Hymns of Our Redeemer” (or any old hymn book, for that matter), hum or whistle or play on an instrument the melodies of one of these old favorites until someone guesses the name of it. Also, you can show one of the players the name of a hymn and let them hum it until one of the other players guesses the name of it. Then let the one who guessed it try humming the tune of the next one. Or, you can begin reading the first verse of a hymn until someone starts humming the tune or, alternately, until someone calls out the name of the hymn. Have fun!
    2. “Show Me”
      (Adapted from Creating a Successful Senior Adult Ministry, published several years ago by the seniors ministry of Thomas Road Baptist Church.) Divide the audience by tables or small groups of individuals. Give each a pile of newspapers and magazines. Prepare in advance a list of pictures typically found in newspapers. Call out the name of one picture such as a house, a store, an office building, someone playing any kind of ball game, a car, a pickup truck, a boy, a girl, a man, a woman, etc. The team that can locate that item first in their pile, tear out the picture with no more than a two inch border, and hold it high gets a point. A variation of this would be to have a “runner” at each table to bring the picture to the leader rather than just showing it at the table.
    3. “Complete the Verse”
      Read well known verses from the Bible (the King James Version may still be the most well-remembered) loud and clear, leaving a main word or phrase out for the residents to fill in. An alternative game would be to give everyone a Bible, then call out the passage and let them see who can find and read the passage the fastest.
  8. Christian Audio/Video Materials
    1. “Comforting Words of Grace” DVD Set
      A three DVD set of devotional videos produced by Christian Concourse expressly for the LTC population. We took videos of many, many flower blossoms (with accompanying butterflies, bumble bees, etc.), water fountains, and mountain streams, using these as the visual for the DVDs. The audio includes the music from the CDs provided with “Favorite Hymns of Grace” – both the vocal and instrumental versions, reading related Bible verses during the instrumentals. FREE!
    2. Ted Baehr’s Top 20 Movies of the Last Century
      Everybody likes a good, decent movie; and just such a movie is a great past-time to help care facility residents get their minds off their troubles. But, you can wander through the maze of racks at a video store for ages and have serious questions of the quality or the moral worthiness of most of what you see. To help you, if you would like to furnish some superior movie viewing for residents in a facility, we provide the following list. These are the top twenty movies of the last century, in alphabetical order, rated by Dr. Ted Baehr, former actor, lawyer, minister and movie producer. Dr. Baehr’s work now is focused on reforming the entertainment industry.
      Dr. Baehr’s comments: “These 20 movies represent the best-crafted, most-worthwhile movies of the century. These movies have given people a deeper awareness as well as a better understanding of life. Most have imparted to the audience a heightened sense of devotion and love, and a great increase in either man’s love of God or in man’s understanding of God.”
      1. BABETTE’S FEAST (1987)
      2. BEN-HUR (1959): Subtitled A TALE OF THE CHRIST
      3. CHARIOTS OF FIRE (1981)
      4. GONE WITH THE WIND (1939)
      5. THE HIDING PLACE (1975)
      6. HIGH NOON (1952)
      7. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946)
      8. LES MISERABLES (1935)
      9. A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS (1966)
      10. MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (1962)
      11. MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON (1939)
      12. PLACES IN THE HEART (1984)
      13. REPENTANCE (1987)
      14. THE ROBE (1953)
      15. SERGEANT YORK (1941)
      16. THE SOUND OF MUSIC (1965)
      17. A TALE OF TWO CITIES (1935)
      18. TENDER MERCIES (1982)
      19. THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1956)
      20. THE WAR OF THE WORLDS (1953)

        MOVIEGUIDE® offers an online subscription to its magazine, at https://www.movieguide.org/ . The magazine, which comes out 12 times a year, provides articles and reviews that can help us to be media-wise consumers. Contact the editor: Dr. Ted Baehr at (805) 383-2000.
    3. “That the World May Know” – by Ray Vander Laan
      A “tour” of the Holy Land with a view to encouragement for the modern Christian in their walk of faith. https://store.focusonthefamily.com/focus-featured/that-the-world-may-know
    4. “Parables from the Fishin’ Hole” – Nelson multi media group
      Teaching parables on wholesome living based on episodes from “The Andy Griffith Show.” http://www.amazon.com/Parables-Fishin-Hole-Study-Guide/dp/B000A3G5EW
    5. Modern Christian Videos – https://www.faithinstore.com/results.aspx#!?search=dvd%20movie
      Facing the Giants, Flywheel, Faith Like Potatoes, The Hiding Place, Jesus of Nazareth, The Ultimate Gift, Fireproof – to name a few.
    6. “Day of Discovery” Video Club – from Radio Bible Class, producers of “Our Daily Bread.” Short lessons on the Christian life. https://ourdailybreadpublishing.org/cds-dvds/dvds.html
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