Elders need the Gospel too

Elders need the Gospel too

The UN definition of an adult is an individual over the age of 15. In 1900, adults were 1.1 billion out of 1.6 billion total people (so there were more over-15s than under-15s). Today there are 7.5 billion total people, of whom 5.5 billion are adults (leaving 2 billion children).

By 2050, there will likely be 7.6 billion adults in the midst of 9.7 billion people, or roughly the same ratio.Some places have higher birth rates and therefore younger (on average) populations. In others – and particularly in some unevangelized regions – declining birth rates means the population is ‘aging’.

In the table below, we look at the situation in a slightly different fashion: the total population under the age of 15, versus the total population over 65; or, children vs. seniors. The final column shows the ratio between these two populations, presented as children divided by seniors. In low-income countries, for example, children under the age of 15 outnumber seniors six times over.

This kind of ratio suggests how ministry resources might be strategically allocated. In low-income countries, obviously more resources should be devoted to ministry to children than to ministry to seniors, in the sense that there are more children to minister to. But in many countries, the division is nearly equal. People are living longer, and having fewer children.

We must become just as good at ministering to the elderly (especially in places where the ratio is under 1.0) as we are at ministering to children. Unfortunately, anecdotally it appears to me there are far more short-term trips to minister to children than to senior citizens.

RegionUnder-15sOver-65s15:65 ratio
WORLD2 072 8931 461 4401.42
Low-income countries448 17769 1166.48
Lower-middle-income countries962 492450 0112.14
Upper-middle-income countries423 109569 2270.74
High-income countries238 366372 3050.64
Middle-income countries1 385 6011 019 2381.36
More developed regions201 538325 0240.62
Less developed regions1 871 3541 136 4161.65
Less developed regions, excluding least developed countries1 292 7071 021 9621.26
Least developed countries578 647114 4545.06
Less developed regions, excluding China1 686 034775 1222.18
Africa797 574133 3135.98
Eastern Africa283 24743 3306.54
Middle Africa129 82114 2799.09
Northern Africa86 46838 6902.23
Southern Africa17 1976 9212.48
Western Africa280 84230 0939.33
Sub-Saharan Africa711 10694 6237.52
Asia948 460895 1101.06
Eastern Asia209 916421 1530.50
South-Eastern Asia154 429115 3871.34
South-Central Asia495 914309 6891.60
Western Asia88 20148 8811.80
Central Asia19 6539 5492.06
Southern Asia476 261300 1401.59
Europe107 011185 6010.58
Eastern Europe40 43056 8140.71
Northern Europe19 52727 6930.71
Southern Europe18 33146 7140.39
Western Europe28 72354 3800.53
LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN134 030144 3060.93
Caribbean8 6678 8830.98
Central America40 86937 8811.08
NORTHERN AMERICA74 49193 3380.80
OCEANIA11 3269 7731.16
Australia/New Zealand6 6838 4500.79
Melanesia4 3091 1043.90
South America84 49497 5420.87
Micronesia152961.59
Polynesia1821231.48