Connecting Youth with Shut-ins

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Most years, the most successful youth group event was the night when we visited shut-ins in our congregation.  It might not have been the most popular youth event going in to the activity, but it was always the best as the night ended. If you haven’t done this, you gotta give it a try.

We always had a lot of shut-ins within our congregation.  That meant there were plenty of people to visit, so we split up into small groups of youth and gave each group 2-3 individuals to visit.  We would all sign cards and make sure we had treats to bring as well.  We even got ultra-organized after a while and would post a list of shut-ins and invite all members of the congregation to give us Christmas cards to bring on our visits.

One might assume that youth group students have nothing in common with shut-ins, and therefore, would feel awkward or uncomfortable in the visits.  That was just not the case. The students would comment that they wished that they had more time to visit. In many situations, the students struck up friendships and returned to visit the shut-ins throughout the year.

There were just so many positives from this experience. The shut-ins receive visitors and attention. The students get to know these saints that they might otherwise never meet. The students realize that this is a service project and that they can be a blessing as they visit and talk with the elderly congregants. And every time we did this, the shut-ins were a blessing to the students.

Give this a try if you’ve never done it before.  If you've already done this, how was the experience?

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Visiting the elderly has always been a positive experience. I don't think anyone has ever given the indication that it was a dreary exercise. It's exciting to hear the stories and the wealth of knowledge they have from years past and living through historical tragedies. I like it on a number of levels. One is that the kids find out that it isn't quite as bad as they thought it might have been, and sometimes even fun. The kids learn a human, tangible side of Senior-ness and that connection is what sparks relational activities on a new and different level, immediately, as well as, much later in life.  Also, I love to see the elderly peoples face light up when they are entertaining the youth. Yes, you read that right....they are doing the entertaining! I have made a special effort this year to include Senior in numerous activities, such as, service project, crafts, games, good-will in an effort to realistically and practically attempt to make the Seniors feel that they still have something to contribute....that's really where the rubber hits the road, isn't it? Seniors, who many times, have spent most of their time involved in every aspect of church life, now feel useless; no refund, no return. And they no longer feel connected. It's extremely important and necessary that we spur on these interactions with the elderly that will carry them through this period in their life, while they are waiting for their eternal resting place, and treasure.