The Dream Team
You’ve seen the statistics. You are aware of the opportunity.
- 78 million baby boomers.
- 10,000 turning 65 each day.
- A huge group of adults with tremendous ministry potential.
- You know your current senior adult ministry won’t reach them.
- What do you do? How do you start?
One great way to begin to move a ministry with the new old from an idea to a reality is to form a Dream Team. Several churches have launched or expanded their boomer ministries this way and have seen some great results.
What is a Dream Team?
A dream team is a small group of adults in the boomer age range (I’d suggest adults age 55-70) who commit to meeting three to six times to brainstorm about ministry with the new old. For some church leaders, one goal of the dream team is that several of those who are a part of the group will develop a passion for reaching the new old and will become leaders that will spear-head the ministry.
In an effort to better understand the dream team concept, I interviewed some church leaders who have pioneered the dream team idea. From them, I gathered several key elements that will help you have a successful dream team.
Strategies for a Successful Dream Team
1. Choose high capacity people and extend a personal invitation. Dave McElheran, Encore Ministries pastor at Cedar Mills Bible Church in Portland, Oregon selects adults who are committed Christians and engaged as active members at the church. He also considers how well the adults will relate to the others on the team, because good discussion is essential to the success of the dream team. The group should be between eight to twelve participants. Any larger and it will be too hard to have a good interchange of ideas. Some churches invite all couples, while others choose a mixture of couples and singles. Make sure you have both males and females.
2. Assure the participants that the Dream Team is a short-term commitment. A common characteristic of baby boomers who are moving into the retirement season of life is that they do not want to be tied down. They desire flexibility and want to be able to leave town to visit a grandchild or participate in an activity of their choosing. You will be much more successful in forming your dream team, if you make it clear that the group is only going to meet for 4 weeks (or 6 or whatever number you choose).
3. Clearly communicate your reason for forming the Dream Team. Deni Starbuck, associate pastor at Christ the King Community Church in Bellingham, WA, said that her goal for the team was to simply gather people who would brainstorm with her as to what a ministry with boomers might look like, what activities would attract them and what it would take to make a group like this become a sustainable ministry.
4. Prepare for a meaningful discussion. After a person accepts the invitation to be a part of the dream team, Dave McElheran and his wife Bev, send a letter that explains when and where the group will meet. (Dave’s group met one evening a week, for 4 weeks, in their home. Then, he would select 8 more individuals for a new group. Deni, held her dream team on Sundays immediately following the last church service for 3 weeks and she provided lunch). In the letter that Dave and his wife send, they list 4 discussion questions, one question for each of the meetings. Then, at each gathering, one question is discussed and notes are written down to document the exchange of ideas.
Week 1: What would minister to you and your needs or what do you perceive are the needs of Encore people within our church?
Week 2: What Kingdom building ministry would you like to see developed for Encore?
Week 3: What type of ministry would you like to see developed for connection with in the Encore community in our body?
Week 4: What community activities would interest you for impacting our local area and what activities would allow us to provide the greatest amount of influence in the community?
As ministry ideas are suggested, the team is reminded that leaders will be needed to make these ministries a reality. Some of the team members catch a vision for the ministry and take on a long term leadership role while others move into other areas of church ministry after the 4 weeks. Regardless, the understanding of ministry with the new old has grown, ideas are shared and passions are ignited. If you want additional information about the dream team concept or if you have used something similar to the dream team in your church, please write to Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org.