Unbelievers over the age of 60 are some of the most fertile soils for evangelism!
When individuals go through midlife, they are often preoccupied with establishing a home, growing a family, building a career, or establishing name and reputation. Quite simply they feel too busy for God and push him aside. Then those same people reach 60 years old. All of a sudden, death is no longer 50 years away. Too many peers, family members, associates, and friends have died in their 60s, 70s, or 80s. All of a sudden, they grow more interested in spiritual things than ever before.
Why, though, does the church often not pursue them with the gospel? Truthfully, we as believers sometimes assume that this older group is set in their ways and not approachable. I personally, however, have found that is not the case. Let me share three examples.
First, at our EvanTell Wild Game Feast events, each attendee fills out a communication card. Many who are over the age of 60 indicate that they trusted Christ having never previously understood the gospel. As we follow-up, we’re finding that they are making very sincere decisions for Christ.
Next, a fellow board member recently visited a hospital to see an older friend who had just been diagnosed with cancer. The patient had always claimed that he was an atheist. Rather than give proofs for God’s existence, he simply asked his friend, “Would you like to know beyond any doubt that when you die you are going to heaven?”
The man responded, “Yes.” Shortly after, he trusted Christ. In no way was he an atheist. He had just used that excuse for years to avoid talking about spiritual things. Now all of a sudden—close to death—that excuse was irrelevant.
Lastly, I was once speaking in New York. A believer mentioned an 80-year-old friend whom he had approached with the gospel but had never seemed interested. Suddenly, as the man contemplated how long he had on earth, everything changed.
One day, when the believer visited his neighborhood, the 80-year-old man rushed out to him and immediately told him, “I want you to tell me right now how I can know for certain that when I die, I am going to heaven.” The believer explained the gospel and led him to Christ.
These powerful examples remind us of an important truth: don’t retreat from older people! Instead, make them a significant part of your outreach. You will find many of them very open to the gospel of grace because they know that they are not that far from death. What an opportunity to tell them how they can live forever!