Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Churches As Generational Mission Labs

By Erich Bridges

You're just entering your prime, baby.

You're not older; you're better. You hit the gym with a vengeance. Aches and pains? If you've got 'em, you're not admitting it to yourself or anyone else. You've got big plans for the future. Sixty is the new 40. "Retirement" is not part of your vocabulary (you probably won't be able to afford it, anyway).

You're a boomer, of course. You and your generational comrades have been turning the world upside down since you were pimply teens. So you're not going to let little things like age, gravity or mortality slow you down.

Of five emerging trends in American churches cited by LifeWay Christian Resources President Thom Rainer in the Summer 2011 issue of Facts and Trends (, this one struck me:

"Senior adult ministries in churches will experience steep declines."Wait a minute. The U.S. population is aging, right?

Senior adult ministry ought to be a growth industry. To the contrary: Boomers don't do "senior."

"As the large baby boomer generation moves into their older years, they will resist any suggestion that they are senior adults, no matter how senior they may be," Rainer explains. "Unfortunately, many churches are slow to adapt to new realities. If they do senior adult ministry the way they've always done it, it will be headed for failure."

It makes perfect sense if you understand the boomer psyche. As a generation, we are deep in denial about aging. In our minds, we're still hip, young and wrinkle-free. And to be fair, medical science has added quite a few years to our potential life spans. In many cases, we really do have more energy and vitality than our parents had when they hit 50 or 60. So we don't need no stinkin' shuffleboard. We're just getting started.


Until next time...share the journey and enjoy the ride!