When I was a newly minted pastor's wife I was puzzled by what appeared to be an unexplainable correlation between long-time members' retirement from their jobs and their retirement from church involvement. Now that I am on the cusp of fitting into the "senior citizen" category, I have discovered at least one reason why retirees sometimes seem to diminish their ministry within the church: lack of accessibility to the sanctuary.
When senior citizens have difficulty participating in sanctuary worship services, the entire ministry of the church can suffer. Ministry comes out of worship, and when mobility and other health issues hinder attendance at worship services, the invaluable spiritual gifts, experience, and wisdom of seniors in the church's ministry can be lost as a result. As the body ages, pain, mobility, and health issues sometimes make just getting up in the morning a chore. If seniors who are struggling to function on a day-to-day basis run into access issues in the church, they can become easily discouraged in their attendance and involvement.
Private clubs and religious organizations are exempt from the Americans with Disabilities Act's (ADA's) Title III requirements for public accommodations. ADA laws apply to churches when they have fifteen or more employees and one of them has a disability. The laws also apply if a portion of the facility is rented to outside groups. But a church sensitive to the needs of its members will provide accommodations for seniors and the disabled regardless of ADA law exemptions.