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Archive for September 2010

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?


My Dream

I’m sure you remember Martin Luther King’s I have a dream speech. It was a pivotal moment in American history. Well, I too have a dream. It is a dream about ministry with older adults that I describe in my new book, Baby Boomers and Beyond:

It is a dream where older adults are motivated to give their lives away to people needing God’s grace. A dream where aging is not feared but rather welcomed as a God-ordained season of life.

It is a dream where adults are telling their life stories to the next generation—proclaiming God’s faithfulness and provision. A dream where older adults find purpose and meaning through a relationship with Jesus Christ. A dream where no one is marginalized because of age.

It is a dream where older adults continue to grow in intimacy with God. A dream where older adults are fully using all of their talents, gifts, and abilities to make a major Kingdom impact.

God began to stir this dream in me at a young age, and by the time I graduated from high school and entered Bible college, this spark to make a difference in the world of older adult ministry was being fanned into a flame. Even as a college student, I wrote papers, read books, and pursued internships in this emerging area. People thought I was crazy and couldn’t believe that a competent nineteen-year-old woman with a year of college under her belt would want to jump into the almost unheard-of arena of ministry with people over fifty. Shouldn’t I be using my ministry gifts serving youth? Or maybe I should look into women’s ministry or children’s ministry?

But God had a grip on me, and I had a burning passion to see the entire landscape of aging and older adult ministry change. Over the years, I have served as an older adult minister, pursued further education, taught classes, written articles, and done just about everything I could to speak this message. When I would become frustrated that no one was listening, voices would say, “The time isn’t right,” “The church isn’t ready yet,” “We’ll get there one day.”

Well, the day has finally come. The bulging numbers of adults marching into their fifth, sixth, and seventh decades of life is larger than it has ever been. Now is the time to make the dream come alive. Now is the time to unleash older adults to live out their God-given purpose. Now is the time to create effective ministries that reach out to adults over fifty. Now is the time to explore the possibilities.
Now is the time.
(Excerpt from Baby Boomers and Beyond, 2010, by Amy Hanson)

What is your dream for older adult ministry and how are you going to make this dream a reality?


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.