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baby boomers

The Baby Boomer Generation in the News

2011 is a defining year as millions of baby boomers celebrate their 65th birthday and cross the threshold into what used to be (and to some extent, still is) the chronological marker for old age. This noteworthy event has been all over the headlines with many news stories being reported on this phenomenon.

Here are a few take-away points that I deemed as important in what I’ve read in the past week.

  • Boomers want to be engaged and will continue to reinvent themselves through work and volunteer efforts.

  • Finances are affecting aging baby boomers, and perhaps their biggest financial concern is the cost of healthcare.

  • Many older boomers are experiencing the phenomenon of their adult children moving back home and some boomers are also having to take an active role in raising their grandchildren.

  • Boomers and older adults are continuing to work past the retirement age, but are choosing to do new jobs that are meaningful to them.

  • Boomers have always made an impact and we can expect them to continue to do this as they move into their later years of life.
  • Below are the links to several articles and news stories that you may want to check out.
    Forever Young: What’s in Store for Baby Boomers? (segment on the Today Show)
    Boomers Take the Retire out of Retirement
    (Segment on NPR)
    This Isn’t Grandpa’s Retirement (USA Today Opinion Piece)
    Baby Boomers: Officially You’re Now Senior Citizens. (Christian Science Monitor)

    What does this information mean for those of us who want to minister with aging boomers? What have you seen or heard in the news lately regarding boomers that we need to take notice of?


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?


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.


A New View of Retirement

With the first baby boomer turning 65 in 2011, there is lots of talk in the media about retirement. In this post, I’ve got three articles on this topic to share with you – all which are worth reading.

1. Bill was 57 when he retired after a career as a salesman and spent his first few years of retirement gardening and fishing. There’s nothing wrong with those two hobbies – but Bill was designed to do more. And there are millions of others who are retired or soon to be retired that need to find a new calling – one where they give a portion of their time to ministry. Check out Bill’s inspiring story of how one man turned his retirement years into a time of productivity for God’s work. It’s my dream that we will see story after story about men and women like Bill. If you have a story like this, please post it in the comments.

2. Did you know there are actually phases of retirement? In Chapter 5 of my book, Baby Boomers and Beyond, I talk about the stages of retirement as Dr. Robert Atchley describes them, but last week I read a study that had a bit of a different take on the stages of retirement. Looking at these phases can be very helpful to us as we seek to minister with people. Can we identify the phase they are in? How can we pray for them during this phase? How can we support them? Here are the phases identified in The New Retirement Mindscape study:
1) Imagination
2) Hesitation
3) Anticipation
4) Realization
5) Reorientation
6) Reconciliation.

3. Finally, the third article I want to draw your attention to is The Retirement of the Future and it is right on in terms of how boomers are viewing the retirement years. Many want to keep working in some fashion, however they also want time for leisure pursuits. And many of them want to do something purposeful with their lives. In the article is a quote from Ken Dychtwald who says, “There’s a dawning realization among boomers that a life of pure leisure, with no challenge or stimulation, is both unaffordable and boring, especially since—with increasing life spans—this phase might last for 30 years or more.”

Let’s not sit by passively as millions are deciding how they are going to spend their retirement years. We need to enter into the journey and point these people to Christ and help them discover how they can use their lives to make a Kingdom impact.

What are you doing in your ministry context to address the issues of retirement?


Baby Boomers and The Changing Landscape of Aging

This week I read an article in The Sacramento Bee and I was smiling and nodding my head throughout the entire thing. Everything the reporter said is right in line with what I’ve been discovering as I talk with church leaders and boomer-age adults across the country.

Here are just a few points from the article that those of us in church ministry should consider:

• Boomers want different things then the Builder generation. In the article, a director of a local senior center noted that the boomers wanted the shuffleboard court removed in order to put up a new fitness center. It doesn’t take much for us to take this and make a connection to ministry. New programs and activities will be required to reach the new old.

• Baby Boomers want to serve but in a different way. Here’s a quote from the article, “Older seniors wanted to answer the phone at the desk one day a week and do their job and go home,”…Baby Boomers need a project. They want to do something worthwhile and utilize their talents. They want to be involved.” I am finding over and over again that boomers want to do more than staple papers and fold newsletters. Let’s find ways to fully engage them in ministry.

• Boomers want to age in place, which means they want to stay in their own home. Because of this, building contractors will be asked to widen doorways and adjust counters to accommodate their needs.

• Boomers are attentive to their health. One way of reaching out to boomers in our communities is by providing resources for them to improve their health. For example, a fitness class held on your church campus or a biking group where churched boomers invite their unchurched friends.

• Boomers have buying power. This one really made laugh because the article said that 61% of Baby Boomers whose kids have left home remodel their kitchens. My parents, born in 1946 and 1942 just did this! But on a more serious note, how can we help the boomers in our churches understand how to use their financial resources for Kingdom work? Many of these people have spent a lifetime accumulating – now they need some guidance as to what to do with it.

This article has some great insights. Take a look at the whole thing here and then post a comment about what you are doing in your ministry to respond to the different characteristics of the boomer generation.


Accept Aging or Fight It?

Last week, I was asked this question, “When does reluctance to accept growing old become dangerous to one’s spiritual health?”  Here was my response:

In our culture, we are bombarded on a daily basis with the message that younger is better and we must do everything we can to maintain our youth.  Whether it be make-up, hair color or clothes, many go to great lengths to ‘stay young’ and in the process they neglect to see that growing old has always been a part of God’s plan.  Once sin entered this world, we became mortal beings and our physical bodies would eventually wear out.  The process of aging is simply God’s way of moving us from birth to death and then to eternity.  We should not avoid or fear aging but should view it the way Scripture describes it, as a blessed time of life. (Genesis 15:15; Proverbs 20:29).

Another point to consider in regards to aging and our spiritual health, is that God desires for us to be totally dependent on Him.  He wants us to be desperate for Him, to need Him above anything else.  And yet, in our society we tend to be very self-sufficient.

In my book, Baby Boomers and Beyond, I write:  “The losses and challenges associated with aging can persuade older adults to throw themselves on God.  Even though people fight it, aging cannot be reversed.  Physical health does decline, aging parents need care, and loved ones do die.  In these circumstances, when people have nowhere else to turn, we can point them to a deeper dependence on God, and in turn they will find peace and intimacy with Him.”  (p.161). “My soul finds rest in God alone…” (Psalm 62:1)

Please chime in with your answer to this question:

“When does reluctance to accept growing old become dangerous to one’s spiritual health?”

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