Every parish can become a faith formation learning center where parishioners can grasp the connections between their everyday life and the teaching of Jesus. This is no less true for maturing adults who require continuous instruction in the mechanics of living a life as a Child of God.
The following 12 programs are suggestions for a vibrant ongoing curriculum for maturing adult faith formation from the JOHNSON Institute. It’s recommended that all those in leadership prepare for ministry by taking FFMA programs: 101, 102, and perhaps 108. Once this formative time is complete then the parish can move forward by offering the following FFMA programs to all maturing adults on a schedule of their choice: 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 109, 110, 111, 112. For a full description and detailed plan of how to move forward with this program consult www.senioradultministry.com
FFMA 101: The 12 Essential Competencies of Ministering to, with, and for Maturing Adults
This is the “basic course.” This program is a must for all leadership, and indeed all maturing parish members need to know such things as: common misconceptions about aging, fundamental emotional needs of elder adults, common emotional reactions to loss, adjustment approaches to aging, the goals of a spiritually helpful relationship, effective communication skills unique to dealing with maturing adult populations, etc. Such concepts form the foundation for their “holy maturation” work.
FFMA 102: The 12 Spiritual Vitalizing “Keys” to Successful Maturation
Aging is a spiritual process every bit as much as it is a physical and a mental process. How does one “age” best? Maturing parish members need to transform any regressive attitudes about aging and replace them with life-giving attitudes of light. They need to be given life-expanding tools that equip them to deal positively and constructively with all that aging brings.
FFMA 103: The New Spiritual Meaning of Pre-Retirement and Retirement Living
Maturing parish members have a need to define a personal path through the transition we call retirement. They need to know that retirement isn’t an end, but rather a new beginning; that retirement has a unique spirituality; that retirement is personally and spiritually growth enhancing, and that retirement offers a new balance to life that invigorates rather than diminishes oneself. Maturing adults need to learn the skills and competencies of living their retirement ‘on purpose.’
FFMA 104: How to be a Spiritual Companion with Maturing Adults
Maturing adults can accent their ongoing faith formation by learning and practicing facilitative relationship skills and competencies that go beyond social interaction patterns that so often dominate communication. Maturing adults can learn to become more spiritually attending to others, and at the same time become more volitionally aware of the movement of the Spirit in their own lives when they learn and practice these simple skills.
FFMA 105: Discovering Your Unique Spiritual Strengths for Spiritual Deepening and Positive Healing
Why do some of your maturing members live a full and rich life in spite of their sickness, while other seems to make a lifestyle out of being sick? Over 86% of persons over 65 years of age have at least one chronic ailment. Yet, personal impairment comes more from the way maturing adults see their sickness, than from the sickness itself. Maturing adults of faith can grow to see their sickness or illness as a part of the unfolding of their life, indeed as an opportunity to embrace God’s love ever more dearly.
FFMA 106: A Holy Understanding of Wellness, or “Why be Well?”
Wellness is more than the absence of disease; it is a state of well-being where one is physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually functioning optimally. Maturing adults need to see the connections between their physical and mental well-being and their spiritual development. They need a framework that gives them specific guidance on how to achieve wellness regardless of the condition of their objective health.
FFMA 107: Caregiving as a Forum for Spiritual Growth
Caregiving is so much more than performing tasks; it’s an engagement of the heart, as well as the mind; it’s an illumination of the spirit, as well as activity of the soul. Caregivers need to know that their role is a ministry, an opportunity for spiritual growth when they incorporate the spiritual dimension. Without this spiritual dimension, caregivers are at risk for becoming overwhelmed, falling prey to motivational failures and even emotional and spiritual burnout.
FFMA 108: The Dynamics of Personality in Later Life
Interestingly, between 15 and 20% of maturing adults eventually come to struggle with what has been termed “chronic problem” or “difficult” personalities. The five most common of these are: 1) depressed, 2) anxious, 3) dependent, 4) delusional, and 5) angry. These five personalities can cause many personal, familial, and parish problems. It is imperative that maturing members have a firm grasp on how to identify tendencies leading toward such “chronic problem” personalities, and how they can best serve and give care to these sometimes confusing individuals
FFMA 109: The Unique Spiritual Development Themes of the “Boomer” Years
The middle years, generally thought of as between ages 45 and 65 are filled with potential turmoil, yet this very turmoil is the soil for faith growth through grace like no other. Maturing adults in the middle years are “charged” with constructing the foundation for the second half of their life. What came before our middle years was prelude, a preparation for our fantastic journey of interior growth and faith development. This is a process that takes the rest of life advancing our spiritual authenticity, our quest for God.
FFMA 110: The Unique Spiritual Development Themes of the “Builder” and “Elder” Years
As we age our body slows down, but our spiritual pace quickens. The maturing stages and phases of life can be at one and the same time, both the most difficult stages physically, and yet, the most rewarding ones spiritually. Maturing parishioners have a clear need to connect their aging process with the grand opportunities for spiritual development afforded to them by these monumental changes in their maturing years.
FFMA 111: The Spiritually Powerful Relationship
Jesus commanded us to love one another. This message challenges us daily, no less so in our maturing years than in earlier ones. Maturing adults need, and perhaps even crave, the warmth and connection of relationship regardless of their lifestyle setting: married, single, living at home, in residence, in a care setting. Maturing adults need to hear the message of love connections accented again and again. They need the tools and concepts of loving so they can better show the light of Christ in their everyday lives.
FFMA 112: The Dynamics of Personal Change: Tilling the Soil for Ongoing Conversion
Change is the pervasive growth stimulator of living, and its pace only quickens as we advance in age. Our maturing years demand that we enter into a continuous progression of change unparalleled in previous years. The degree to which we can embrace change as the beneficial force that it is, the better we can reap the harvest of our years in the Spirit.