Boomers Transform Lives Through Service

“Boomers” Are Looking for Ways to Transform Lives Through Service. Rev. Toni G. Boehm, Ph.D.: USCR Ministry Consultant

Adapted from Original Article by Thom Rainer:

The 60s, ahhhh, they were an interesting decade. As a child of the 60s our slogans were; make love not peace; don’t trust anyone over 30; down with establishment; even, God is dead. On January, 1, 2011 the first round of “Boomers” (10,000 of 76 million to come), as we are now called, turned 65 and started retiring. And an interesting phenomena occurred. The Boomers, wanted to reclaim God, the God they had disassembled, rearranged, put behind them, was now becoming re-known to them. But, the Boomers had changed. The Boomers were clear they didn’t want the “God” of their parents, they wanted a kinder, gentler God, and they knew and know that they want to support the transformation of lives for the good. Well, here we are – Unity – we have that God. So, for a moment let us not worry about attracting Millennials, let us look at where the fields are ripe for harvest – Boomers – and see how we might support the next phase of their spiritual growth.

Remember, the Millennials right now, are where we were in the 60s, there is a spiritual maturing process that is required, an “aging,” like fine wine, that must occur and right now until 2030 we have the Boomers who are ready to rediscover in a new way, the God of their childhood. So how can we support them?

For, as blogger Thom Rainer suggests, “the implications for ministries regarding us are staggering. This generation is not of the mindset of previous aging generations. According to a Pew Research study, the typical Boomer does not believe old age begins until age 74. And the typical Boomer feels nine years younger than his or her chronological age. So what are some of the implications for ministries as Boomers are reaching retirement age? Read these carefully. There are very few ministries that will not feel the impact of retiring Boomers.” Rainer continues:

1. They will have less money to give to churches. Their predecessor generation, the Builders, have been the most generous to churches and other charitable organizations. But that oldest generation is fading quickly from the scene. Churches are already feeling the pain of the loss of income from that generation. And now another challenge is taking place. Boomers are retiring, which typically means lower income. And lower income means diminished giving to churches.

2. Some will have more volunteer time. But their retirement will break previous patterns. Many of these Boomers will continue to seek atypical retirement opportunities. There will be few “rocking chair” retirees among the Boomers. How can churches attract those Boomers who will have more discretionary time? Perhaps the next implication can answer that question.

3. Most of the Boomers still want to change the world. Many of them may be disillusioned after four decades of work that was not meaningful and life changing. But they still have the spirit of the 60s, a spirit that desires to be different and to make a difference. If congregations can offer retiring Boomers such opportunities, there could be a surge of Boomer church adherents.

4. Many of the Boomers will be traveling more. So some of our ministries most faithful attendees will be conspicuously absent as they have this new discretionary time. They will be traveling for pleasure, visiting grandchildren, and traveling to places where they believe they can make a difference.

5. Retiring Boomers will kill traditional senior adult ministries. The primary reason is that most of them don’t like to be categorized as senior adults. The secondary reason is they would be bored with some of the potlucks, travels, and activities of churches that attempt to keep their current senior adults happy.

Culture is changing friends, the landscape of ministry is shifting. We as leaders of spiritual communities are facing new opportunities, often cloaked as challenges. The implications for ministries can appear overwhelming, for the rate and pace of change is becoming nothing less than staggering.

What do these implications mean for your ministry? What is your ministry, consciously and intentionally doing today to reach and minister to retiring Boomers?

I would invite you to engage in some of the following; in leadership meetings, at community meetings, and etc. start to look at these implications – ask how they are impacting your ministry. Create new opportunities for Boomers to be in service – and it is just not teach Sunday School – align them with their passion. Market consciously to them, inviting them into service around their passions. Be proactive, and there will be less reaction.

Rev. Toni G. Boehm is USCR’s Ministry Consultant and can be contacted at 816-304-3044 or revtboehm@aol.com