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by Dr. Amy Hanson
One thing is certain. Baby Boomers (born between 1946-1964) are approaching aging differently than the generation before them. They are described as independent, cause-oriented, and well-educated. They don’t want to be called a senior and generally aren’t interested in potlucks and bus trips. So, how do we begin to reach boomers while still engaging senior adults?
Starting something new isn’t easy, but with 78 million baby boomers moving into their sixties and seventies, it’s well worth the effort.
A fascinating new study from Merrill Lynch and the Age Wave research firm (Giving in Retirement: America's Longevity Bonus) predicts that boomer retirees potentially will give the equivalent of $8 trillion through charitable donations and volunteering over the next two decades. The longevity bonus is the demographers’ term for the population's increased life expectancy. Read more
As the Baby Boomer generation retires, church leaders who hope to continue to tap into retiree time and resources may need to rethink the ministries they ask mature adults to take on.
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Thom Rainer, Lifeway, talks about the trends that churches in America will face regarding the aging Boomer generation. He believes these trends may indeed become reality and challenges the church saying, “the opportunities seem significant. May the response of Christians and churches be nothing less than radical obedience."
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"Most people wouldn’t expect a youth worker to deal with such a broad range of ages, citing physical, emotional and mental differences. Even so, congregations often expect a minister for older adults to effectively bridge a 30-year, 40-year and even 50-year gap among its members."
"The key to enticing baby boomers to volunteer is to tap into their passions... And congregations must recognize and respect that boomers prefer short-term commitments, rather than signing up for a multi-year stint."
"The National Retirement Risk Index (NRRI) measures the share of American households 'at risk' of being unable to maintain their pre-retirement standard of living in retirement." Read the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College's brief on this risk and subsequent consequences on work and retirement.
The Boomers have more pastors represented in their generation than any other. There are many pastors reaching retirement age every month. And I’m not sure our churches are ready for this transition.