By Shannon Baker
MIDDLETOWN, Md.— Nearly 60 older adults from Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware churches gathered May 15-17 for the annual Ports of Call retreat at Skycroft Conference Center. Participants shared in times of Bible study, worship, prayerwalking and other ministry activities, as well as an excursion to the Antietam battlefield.
Retreat pastor Keith Corrick, director of missions for the Potomac Baptist Association, shared messages based on the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6, urging participants to pray optimistically, inclusively, strategically and persistently.
He shared the five most common temptations senior adults face as they age: spiritual retirement, inflexibility, regrets, critical spirits and worry.
The first temptation is spiritual retirement or backing off from church responsibilities and Kingdom work, he said.
“When we hit our 60s and 70s, we may be just hitting our strides,” Corrick encouraged, sharing how he and his wife Terri went on their first overseas missions trip when they were senior adults. “If you back off and quit all your activities at church, you’re probably going to wane in your spiritual life.”
He shared how he watched senior adult laymen in the former Brotherhood Commission who worked tirelessly to start what is now known throughout the Southern Baptist Convention as disaster relief and World Changers.
“You may need to rechannel your efforts but you may not be more valuable than you are now,” Corrick said.
The second temptation was inflexibility, or resistance to change.
“As we get older, it’s natural to become more rigid in our ways,” Corrick said, noting how easy it is to want to sit in the same church seats, park in the same spaces, or to listen to the same songs. “But some days, we look really silly because of our inflexibility.”
Corrick was quick to note that in his ministries over the years some of the most flexible people were the senior adults, whose support helped the church grow amid societal and neighborhood changes.
The third temptation was regrets. “Many of us look back and wish we had done things differently,” Corrick said, urging his listeners to “preach the Gospel to yourself every day of your life.”
He reminded, “The blood of Jesus Christ covers all our sin. Confess sins specifically and claim His forgiveness!”
The fourth temptation was having a critical spirit.
“Criticism and complaining is the bane of the church,” shared Corrick, explaining how pastors, who hears the complaining the most, often feel so beat down. Pointing rather to Philippians 2:14, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing,” Corrick urged the gathering to replace any critical spirits they may have with the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
The last temptation was worry. “As we get older, we worry more” about our kids and grandkids, especially, Corrick said. Worry is overcome by “trusting God to take care of us no matter what happens,” he said. “Cast your cares upon Him.”
During their Bible studies, Jim and Daphne McBride of New Harvest Baptist Church in Dover, Del., also spoke on prayer, encouraging participants to focus their prayers on scriptures.
“Why do most prayer meetings turn into ‘organ’ recitals?” Daphne asked, explaining the tendency to focus on just health issues. “Sometimes we focus so much on physical problems that we forget other important things, too.”
In addition to “praying for the boil on Uncle Edgar’s backside,” the McBrides urged deeper prayers over loved one’s physical conditions.
First, pray for the physical and spiritual health from an eternal perspective. “If Uncle Edgar is not a believer, we need to pray for his salvation and that God will use his illness to draw him to himself,” Jim said.
Jim pointed to the heart attack he experienced 11 years earlier. Though he had been shuttled to the emergency room by ambulance and then later medivaced to another hospital, he said he was at peace the whole time.
“I really learned to have peace in God,” he said. “I wouldn’t trade anything in the world for what I have now, the peace of God.”
Second, pray that Uncle Edgar’s faith will endure, his witness will be consistent and strong with those he interacts with, and that he would resolve to turn away from any unconfessed sins or strongholds in his life.
“Believe me, God and I had lots of discussions when I was recovering from my heart attack,” Jim affirmed.
Third, pray that any ungodly influences will be driven away from Uncle Edgar’s life. Pray for godly influences to encourage him and help him live a life devoted to Christ.
And fourth, pray that restored health will give Uncle Edgar a new testimony that will draw his family and friends into deeper relationships with Christ.
In addition to the Bible studies and worship services, retreat attendees enjoyed breakout sessions on personal safety, preparing for disasters, healthy living, and showing love to their pastors.
Many also participated in a variety of evangelism projects, including volunteering at a nearby Christian academy, prayerwalking in the community surrounding South End Baptist Church, prayerwalking on Skycroft’s campus, and otherwise preparing materials for future outreach efforts.
Ken Tipton, minister of music at Calvary Baptist Church in Bel Air, Md., led several times of worship, focusing on the nostalgic songs of Billy Graham crusades, older hymns, Southern Gospel favorites, and more.
Jeannette McCulley of Hughesville Baptist Church was thrilled with her first senior adult retreat. “I’ve never been to a senior adult retreat. I’ve never been to Skycroft. And I’ve never been prayerwalking,” she said, shining. “I enjoyed feeling spiritually revived. Sometimes you become stagnant and complacent in your walk. It is always good to be reinforced with new ideas, ways to pray and realizing that seniors still are needed and have more to give.”
Photos of the various events can be viewed at https://www.flickr.com/photos/bcmd/albums/72157681770596971.