A New Way of Being Church - Word&Way

A New Way of Being Church

Lois Kelley leads worship

Lois Kelley (right), pastor of Blue Valley Christian Church in Overland Park, Kansas, leads worship for residents of Silvercrest at Deercreek, in Overland Park, Kansas, in this file photo. (Screenshot from church website)

At Blue Valley Christian Church (BVCC) they like to say, “we are so far outside the box that we can’t see the box and don’t want to see the box.”

About six years ago, BVCC decided to sell its building. They were getting smaller in numbers and much of their resources were used towards the building debt.  They took some time, after selling their building, to discern what mission God had for them.  They decided to be a church for senior adults in a retirement community.

BVCC moved into Silvercrest at Deercreek, in Overland Park, Kansas, an independent and assisted living retirement community. They desired to be a church family for the residents, instead of just providing a worship service only once a week.

The church holds a full worship service every Sunday morning. They are also on-site during the week. They help with activities for the residents, some planned by BVCC, and some planned by Silvercrest with BVCC helping.

BVCC offers a men’s Bible study and a women’s book group. Pastor Lois is available for pastoral care throughout the week.

BVCC has a wonderful relationship with Silvercrest. Silvercrest provides a place for BVCC to worship, rent-free, and BVCC volunteers and helps the staff and residents, and provides a free chaplain in Pastor Lois.

The church is more than just Sunday morning worship. The church is relationships, caring and supporting each other, and working together to do God’s work/mission in the world.

Lois Kelley

Blue Valley Christian Church Pastor Lois Kelley explains their church’s geriatric ministry after their move to a retirement community (Screenshot)

When folks move into a retirement community, they face many losses.  These losses can include the loss of their home, neighborhood, friends (if they move out of state to be closer to children), usually their church, and eventually their driving. BVCC doesn’t want to be another loss, they want to be a new church for them, a church family. They are committed to the community and being there for them, through the week, for the future.

In light of the pandemic lockdown, Rev. Lois recently updated her reflection:

The coronavirus quarantine makes our situation more challenging for sure. Here are some of the ways we are still reaching out to our community:

  • We are sending cards to all the residents and continue to send birthday cards with a small gift of a $5 gift card for lunch or a candy bar. (In March the member who sent cards included $20 grocery cards thinking those might be needed).
  • Our worship service is on Facebook live from my home, and Silvercrest staff help the residents access it.
  • We have ordered goodies for each resident and staff member.
  • I am available, by phone, for all the residents and staff – in case they need to talk or just want to visit with someone.
  • Residents are now encouraged to stay in their apartments and their meals are being delivered to their apartments, so more need for phone call visiting will probably be happening.
  • I am also typing up the Bible study each week. Those are mailed to the activity director and she prints them out for the residents. I’m providing questions to think about and they can call each other or me and talking about the questions.
  • I’ve enlisted the help of some of my friends with kids. They are making pictures and writing cards to send to the residents.
  • We are planning (as I’m sure many churches are) a big celebration when we are back in the building, it will be a different style of worship (that will include more time for visiting and catching up) and a meal.

I feel like I’m busier now than before all this happened!

Many things at Central helped to prepare me for this new way of being church. One was the class on Missional Church. We partner with several businesses to minister to the retirement community and, together, for ministry outside the community. The Caring Ministries of the Church class with Dr. Ruth Rosell was probably one of the most important in preparing me, as it covered so much on the many ways to nurture the faith community. Because of my Central experience I feel confident in navigating this new ministry. Central is helping us make a difference in the lives of the residents and staff at Silvercrest.

Written by

Rev. Lois Kelley is pastor of Blue Valley Christian Church in Overland Park, Kansas. She is also an alumni of Central Seminary, in Shawnee, Kansas.