When I was an intern at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, I had the privilege of working with Dr. David Apple and the mercy ministry outreach. From a youth, my dad frequently took me to nursing homes where he would help lead worship services. John H. Skilton, late Professor of New Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, introduced my father to this great need. John visited almost every nursing home in Philadelphia. He left a testimony of real desire to see the kingdom of God advance in the lives of needy men and women.
Nursing Home ministry is a responsibility and privilege that is often overlooked by the church. I think there are a several reasons for this. First, you will never grow a church by ministering in a Nursing Home. You will never get a sudden surge of people into the church pews (or cushion seats if you are more cutting edge) by focusing on Nursing Home Ministry. Your church will not visibly grow, but Jesus’ church will. I imagine that there have been many elderly men and women who have come to saving faith on account of some loving child of God coming into a Nursing Home, or Assisted Living Center, and spreading the love and the word of Christ. The fields are rip for harvest in a Nursing Home.
Another reason Nursing Home/Assisted Living ministry has not received greater emphasis is on account of the fact that it takes a great deal of commitment and care. Most of us, if we are honest, do not want to commit to or care about things like ministering to needy, sick and dying people. Sadly, I know that this is true in my own life.
The final reason nursing home ministry is not carried out more frequently is on account of the lack of training. It takes a great deal of training to understand how to ministry to needy people. It can often be difficult, because of our lack of knowledge. We cannot lay all the blame on the first two reasons. It is on account of this that David Apple and I brought Ed Verbeke, former chaplain of the RPCNA Retirement Home, to Tenth to do a one day training seminar. Ed is a dear friend, who preached at Anna and my wedding. Ed has "Brittle Bone Disease" and has been the subject of care and need for most of his life. Despite (or perhaps on account of ) this malady, Ed is one of the most productive Christians I know. The grace of God, working through Ed’s own needs, has enabled him to care for and serve those who are needy. Ed has a unique gift in ministering to the elderly and shut-ins. I think you will find that this seminar contains some of the best training for Nursing Home Ministry available. You can find the videos here .
You can also find a Nursing Home manual, written by Tom McCormick, posted below the videos. Tom has served in Nursing Home ministry for many years and had his introduction to it through Dr. Skilton.