Ladies Ministry: Reaching Out To the Widows and Elderly

Ladies Ministry: Reaching Out To the Widows and Elderly
Candy Tolbert & Dee Falkner

The Promise Basket for Widows
By Candy Tolbert

Lynn Bowman, former staff of the National Women’s Department, shares a marvelous idea for compassionate individuals or small groups.

A woman in Lynn’s church instantly became a widow when her husband died in a work-related accident. Lynn put together a basket with useful items and attached to each item the reference of an appropriate promise from God’s Word. Lynn suggests the Promise Basket be given to the widow a month or two after her spouse dies, not during the first few weeks.

Your small group can collaborate to make a few baskets in advance. Consider even giving a basket to women in your community who have lost a spouse, inviting them to attend your church. Include the following items in the basket:

* Small Package of Tissues: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4).

* Pillowcase: “When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet” (Proverbs 3:24).

* Dollar Bill: “My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

* Candle: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1).

* Crystal Heart: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22, 23).

* Comb: “And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:30,31).

* Mug: “To know [the love of Christ] that surpasses knowledge; that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19).

Nursing Home Ministry – Ladies You Can Do This!
By Dee Falkner
Psalm 71:9 says, “Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone.”

With both the husband and wife working outside the home, it sometimes becomes necessary to place one’s parents in nursing homes or health care centers for proper care. People live longer and they sometimes require special care or professional therapy which cannot be given at home. The obvious choice is a competent nursing home.

Whether or not you have a friend or loved one in a nursing home makes little difference when it comes to ministry to nursing home residents. You are needed! This article gives guidelines for your compassion/service groups to minister to residents of nursing homes.

Guidelines for Weekly Services

1. Plan weekly services for nursing home residents. Clear dates for regular meetings with the supervisors. Be faithful.
2. Make residents you visit and minister to feel “special.” Reassure them that you love them and that God loves them.
3. Study the Bible or Sunday school lessons with residents. Let them contribute to the session. Study with a group of two or three at a time.
4. Sponsor a children’s or youth choir occasionally to sing for your services. Make arrangements ahead of time so that announcements can be made. At Christmas, invite a group to go caroling through the hallways, if practical. Plan a children’s piano recital for a special occasion.

Guidelines for One-on-One Ministry

1. Provide the Pentecostal Evangel, God’s Word for Today, etc., for residents who enjoy reading.
2. Read to residents who enjoy a variety of materials. Read distinctly and loud enough for them to hear.
3. Use cassette tape players to play portions of church services, sermons, and music to residents.
4. Read a chapter from the Bible.
5. Take a guitar or other non-amplified instrument to play and sing for individual residents who enjoy music and singing.
6. Always pray with residents.
7. Listen to the residents who want to talk. You may hear the same stories over again, but it’s important for them to talk.
8. Find something to compliment-smile, hairstyle, clothes, etc.
9. Celebrate birthdays and special holidays with small gifts. Work with Hospitality Ministry Groups who may provide small cakes, cookies, etc., for such occasions.
10. Watch for residents who are always alone. Some people have no visitors for months. Be a friend to them.
11. Watch a church TV program with residents.


1. Elderly or sick people tire easily. Keep your weekly services short-30 to 40 minutes. One-to-one visits should not tire residents-the length of time depends on the individual’s health.
2. Keep your devotions positive-the love of Jesus, forgiveness, etc.
3. Not all senior citizens have hearing problems. Speak to them in normal tones unless they are hard of hearing.
4. Use the residents’ names. This makes them feel special.
5. Avoid subjects that might upset residents. Keep conversation light and uplifting.
6. Be consistent in your ministry. Residents look forward to your coming. Don’t disappoint them.
7. Respect visiting hours. Time must be allotted for personal care.
8. Be considerate of roommates. They may not want to join in your activities. Make them feel welcome to participate but not obligated.
9. For group activities such as singing, provide large print song or chorus sheets.
10. Avoid using heavy books or Bibles. Many elderly people tire easily when holding heavy objects.
11. Sing familiar hymns.
12. Carry on normal conversations with residents whether or not they are mentally alert. They are still human beings with feelings. Most elderly people are alert.
13. Clear with the nurse before bringing candy and other foods to nursing home residents who may have restricted diets.
14. Do not become a crusader-you are a visitor, not someone to change the system. Abide by the wishes of the health care center and individual residents.
15. Prepare children and young people carefully before taking them with you to participate in services. Assure them the residents will appreciate them. The initial trauma of seeing groups of elderly and people with disabilities can be difficult.


Some nursing home residents are physically capable of attending church services if they have transportation. If the residents cannot attend services, the only spiritual nurturing they receive is either by television, radio, or from those who choose to bring it to them.

We must not forget those who have served others for years. Now is our time to minister to them.

This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”

This article “Ladies Ministry: Reaching Out To the Widows and Elderly” by Candy Tolbert and Dee Falkner was excerpted from: web site. January 2011. It may be used for study & research purposes only.