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Archive for December 2010

Ministry with Baby Boomers means Ministry with their Aging Parents

This week, Good Morning America aired an intimate interview with co-host Robin Roberts, her 86-year old mother and author Missy Buchanan. Among other things, the piece served as a reminder of the tender and often complex relationship between baby boomers and their aging parents. Emotionally it can be hard for boomers to see their parents become more dependent. Then there are the practical questions and concerns like ‘how long should dad continue driving?’ ‘how do we choose the right nursing home?’ and ‘how do I help mom deal with the loneliness since dad has died?’ These are just a few of many issues facing adult children who are wanting to love their aging parents.

As we begin to look for ways to minister with aging boomers (both those inside and outside the walls of the church) we would be remiss if we did not consider the relationship of boomers and their aging parents.

I believe one key way to minister to boomers is to provide ministry for their aging parent. Think about it like this. Some churches have preschools and mother’s day out programs that strive to do an excellent job of providing quality programming for children. These ministries not only minister to the children but also minister to the parents, because many parents are looking for safe and fun environments for their kids. Reaching out to the children in the community also means reaching out to the parents. The same thing happens in youth ministry. Many parents will choose a church because of the church’s strong ministry for junior high and high school students.

Baby Boomers want the best for their aging parents. They want their mom and dad to feel valued, cared for and honored. Churches that have vibrant ministries for the old-old will reach out to boomers.

Several years ago, Council Road Baptist Church in Bethany, Oklahoma designed a service and day-long program to honor World War II veterans. These men and women were interviewed and their stories were recorded in a book given out that day. Other highlights of the day included a room full of memorabilia and a luncheon with a military band. Family members from out of state drove hours to be with their parent on this special day and other sons and daughters sent notes of appreciation to the church – so thankful that their loved one was being honored.

Other churches have luncheons where boomers can encourage their aging parents to attend for socialization and spiritual inspiration. One daughter looked on the web to find a church with a quilt ministry that her 80+ year old mother could participate in. Since that time, this older woman and her husband have become involved in all aspects of the church and have found new friendships.

Ministering with boomers will mean ministering to their parents.

What church ministries do you know of that are ministering with the old-old and in turn, are providing ministry to boomers?


Retirees as Volunteers: Avoiding Some Common Mistakes

Last week a very dear friend, who is in her early seventies, visited our home for several days. We enjoyed laughing, eating and catching up on each others’ lives but one short conversation reminded me of ministry with older adults and the importance of churches and organizations providing specific volunteer opportunities for retirees.

Our friend retired from her career as a children’s librarian and among other things, began volunteering for a local school. However, whenever she went to the school she found herself never knowing quite what to do. You see, the school didn’t give her any responsibility. She just had to show up and go to the different teachers and ask if there was anything she could help them with. She felt in some ways that she was bothering them and finally decided that she wasn’t cut out for this type of volunteer work. Interestingly, she is now back working part time at the library.

Unfortunately, her story is not uncommon. There are a number of reasons that organizations fail to fully utilize retirees as volunteers.

1. Organizations believe that they should not give volunteers any major responsibilities. This is a big mistake. Just because someone is a volunteer does not mean they cannot handle leading a big project or running a program.

2. Organizations fail to give people specific tasks or a specific job. Volunteers need to know that what they are doing matters and that they are filling an important need. You won’t retain a volunteer if they don’t have a specific job. They want to do more than just ‘show up’.

3. Organizations don’t find out the unique skills and experiences that the volunteer has. Having been a librarian, our friend would have been more than happy to be put in charge of re-shelving books in the school library or processing returned items. But no one asked her.

What lessons have you learned about engaging retirees as volunteers?


Churches Hiring Pastors for the Baby Boomers

The boomers are coming! The boomers are coming! It’s all over the headlines. CBS News and USA Today recently did a week-long series on the aging of the baby boomer. We know it is happening but there are some major unanswered questions for those of us in ministry: What does ministry with aging baby boomers look like? What works in reaching them and engaging them in Kingdom causes?

This week I received an e-mail from a boomer pastor who expressed what I often hear from ministry leaders who are attempting to reach boomers.

With some of my own paraphrasing, here is a portion of what he wrote:

The problem we are having is getting the boomer engaged in kingdom focused thinking and involved in the call. You point out in chapter six (of Baby Boomers and Beyond) that the boomer does not like to be involved in activities linked with their parent’s generation, and that is the problem we are having! No matter how we try and differentiate the ministry, our church of around 1000 sees anything in this arena as for old people.

Can you relate to his challenge? Those of us who are attempting to create ministries to reach aging baby boomers are pioneers. We are starting something brand new and don’t have much of a road-map. This can be exciting, scary and HARD!

I would like to help move our efforts forward by identifying those churches who are attempting to do something specifically targeted towards aging boomers. I know of only a handful of churches who have hired someone on their church staff to give focus to this area, but I’m hopeful that there are others.

Do you know of a church that has a staff member (either full-time or part-time) specifically leading a ministry with adults age 50 to 70? (I’m looking for churches that have hired someone in addition to their senior adult or older adult pastor).

Do you know of a church that has a lay-leader or lay team specifically in place to lead ministry with adults 50 to 70?

I know there are a number of churches who have an older adult pastor (senior adult pastor), responsible for adults 50+, but for the purpose of this post, I’m looking for those churches that are working to create something entirely specific to the boomer.

So…if you know of a church (or churches) that fit this criteria, please post the name of the church in the comment section (and the leaders name, if you have it). I’ll then compile these churches and hopefully we can do some informal networking in order to learn from one another.