Wes and Judy Wick lead a dynamic ministry called, YES! (Young Enough to Serve). I have known both of them for several years and we share a similar passion for ministry with older adults. This video that their son produced is outstanding! It’s just 3 minutes long and communicates in a very compelling way why we must engage older adults in the life of the church. So watch, be inspired and then go do something! Read more
A little over a month ago I received a very encouraging e-mail from a married couple who are obviously making an impact with their lives. Here is an excerpt from the e-mail: We lead a small group of “Empty Nesters,” all of whom are boomers and members of the same church. Our small group of about 15 have been studying Richard Stearns’ DVD series called The Hole in Our Gospel DVD It is based on his book by the same name. We decided we wanted to do something and not just learn from the needs of the world. We decided in our naivety (but not God’s) that we wanted to drill a well in a third world country. We started the series in February and decided that we would give toward the well project whatever God gave to us in unexpected ways. Research said it would be anywhere from $5000 to $10,000 for a drilled well. Read more
Work and Retirement. These words seem like complete opposites, but more and more these two words are showing up in the same sentence as baby boomers re-invent their retirement years. Boomers want to make a difference with their lives, and whether they choose to work for pay or work in a volunteer capacity, we want them to focus their lives towards Kingdom work. How can we help them do this? Read more
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?
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?
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:
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?