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Abandon Retirement

This powerful video speaks against what our world so often teaches us about retirement. Take a look and then tell me what you think.


The Boomer Director

While I said in an earlier post that the church seems to be slow to wake-up to the need for ministry with aging baby boomers, I have also been thrilled to see some talk about the future of this ministry.  In March, Church Executive published an article by Sam Rainer where he forecasted some new church staff positions to emerge by the year 2020.  One of the seven positions he mentioned was The Boomer Director.  He wrote, “…there is a large generational divide between the Builders and the Boomers—as big a divide as the one between Generation X and the Boomers. The ministry that reached the Builders will not reach the Boomers. And it all starts with the name. Boomers do not like to be called “seniors,” so if you think that your existing seniors ministry will attract Boomers, you’re probably not going to reach many Boomers.”

Say it again, Sam.  Say it again.  Boomers don’t want to be called a senior.

Not only do boomers not like to be called senior, they are also approaching the later years of life with a desire to make a difference.  One of the best investments a church can make is hiring a boomer minister who will give leadership to equipping and unleashing boomers for meaningful ministry.

Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas has a staff pastor with the title, “minister of adult impact”.  The ministry works at engaging any adult in service, but a special focus of the ministry is the baby boomer.  Adult Impact has socials, travel opportunities and classes targeted towards the baby boomer.  There is a separate ministry (called Forerunners) for the senior adults.

First Evangelical Free Church in Rockford, Illinois is another church that has recently hired someone to minister exclusively with the boomer age group.  The ministry is called MAXlife and once again, is separate from the senior adult ministry of the church.

Whether we call the person a boomer director, minister of adult impact or some other title – one thing is certain – churches who want to be in step with the demographic trends of our time will give serious consideration to this ministry position.

Do you know of any churches who are intentionally ministering with this generation and perhaps have even hired a boomer minister or something of that equivalent?


Why Aren’t More Leaders Excited about Ministry with the Encore Generation?

In the Winter 2010 issue of Leadership Journal, Dave Travis, managing director of Leadership Network, mentioned three things in the church that should be changing by now but aren’t. One of these was ministry to the encore generation. Dave said, “With the huge baby boomer population in this demographic, I’m surprised we’re not seeing growth for this sector.”

His words echo my own thoughts. In talking with many pastors, I have found that most of them do not even have this area of ministry on their radar screen. Health care, the travel and leisure industry and even fashion merchandising is paying attention to the bulging numbers of adults in their 50s, 60s and 70s, but the church seems to be ignoring it. Why is this? Here are just a few of my ideas on the subject.

1.  There is the belief that a growing church is a young church. But, if the fastest growing segment of our entire population is older adults, can’t our church grow as we reach out to 50+ age adults?

2.  The negative stereotypes surrounding aging have found their way into the church. Many church leaders believe the myths that older adults are slow, stuck in their ways and good for nothing but complaining.

3.  Adults over 50 can be ministered to through the women’s and men’s ministry or other ministries for all adults. This might be true to some extent, but we must still recognize the unique issues that affect people in this life stage. Aging parents, the empty-nest, retirement and health needs are all big issues – just like parenting toddlers or preparing for marriage. It is good to gather people of all ages together but there is also a place for speaking to people exactly where they are at.

What are your thoughts as to why the church has been rather slow to wake-up to this important area of ministry?


Boomers Hate Being Called a Senior

A month ago, the front page story of the Omaha World Herald was titled: “Baby Boomers cringe at ‘senior’ label.”

Aging baby boomers do not think of themselves as old and definitely do not want to be labeled with any word that sounds old. Putting the words boomer and senior in the same sentence just doesn’t mix well.

Recognizing this, a group of retirement communities in Omaha is actually changing their name from Immanuel Senior Living to Immanuel Communities. And another national group suggests that we consider renaming the senior citizen activity centers in our cities from “senior centers” to “boomer café’s” or “boomer centers.”

So, if this discussion is making headlines in local newspapers across the country, shouldn’t we in the church be paying attention?

I have heard many times from church leaders, “I just can’t get the 60 year olds to come to our senior adult activity!” Well, for starters, boomers don’t like to be called seniors. And, like it or not, the terminology we use is important. Language can either attract people or turn people away.

That of course begs the question – what should we call this group of new-olds? The encore generation is a name I like and is certainly gaining speed in popularity and recognition. Also, just the term ‘boomers’ seems to be acceptable…at least for now.

But most important, we need to constantly remind ourselves that people are people. Every individual is unique and very few of us like to be labeled. In fact, the marketing tagline for Immanuel Communities is “Uniquely Your Own.”

This reminds me of a cartoon I saw a long time ago, where a social worker was asking questions of a very old man. She said, “And what would you like to be called…old geezer?, golden ager?, senior citizen?” He thought for a long moment and said, “How about Tom. I’ll just go by my name, Tom.”

What names or titles for ministry with baby boomers and the new-old are you finding to be effective? Let’s hear your ideas.

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