Age to Age (for church leadership)

How are you going to address the needs of your aging congregants? .

  • Project – What is the reality of where your church will be by 2020.

How are you preparing…?

  • Prepare – Learn how you can maximize this opportunity, so it is a blessing and not a burden.

Get the most out of boomer participation as your church grows and matures in the future. Get boomers growing now for service & significance later.

  • Participate – Set up a boomer led ministry utilizing their strengths, meeting their needs, relieving your staff of the looming burden.

During the past 100 years, life expectancy in the United States has increased by almost 28 years. As a result of better health care, nutrition, and job safety, many more Americans are living into older adulthood.Consider some of these facts:

  • The number of persons 65 years of age and older has grown from 3.1 million in 1900 (4.1 percent of the total population) to 34.7 million in the year 2000 (13 percent) to an expected 70 million in the year 2030 (20.0 percent).
  • In 1995, persons reaching age 65 had an average life expectancy of an additional 17.4 years (18.9 years for females and 15.6 years for males). The older population includes a disproportionate number of women (145 women to 100 men) and persons with a wide range of capacities, from active, healthy, and employed to fragile, frail, and chronically disabled.
  •  By 2030, minority populations will represent 25 percent of the elderly population, up from 13 percent in 1990. And there will be proportionately more older adults than young people in the population.
  • Every day in the United States 5,600 people celebrate their sixty-fifth birthday, and 4,550 persons, 65 years or older, die. The result is an increase of 1,050 older adults per day.

Today’s aging society is changing the traditional definition of retirement as a time of withdrawal or retreat. Myths and stereotypes associated with our maturing population are being exposed as false and misleading. We need to dispel the common misunderstanding that aging is synonymous with senility and dementia, and that older persons are unable or unmotivated to learn, grow, and achieve.

Opportunities for continuing education and growth have long been unmet by a system geared to the needs of the young. Hearing and vision loss and other physical or biological changes may impede or change the way an older adult learns; however, old age can be a time of continual learning.

Like society, faith communities are “graying,” but at an even faster rate. Studies done in the United Methodist Church show many churches having an older adult membership that represents over 60 percent of their total membership, with some even higher. This is due in part to younger and middle-aged adults choosing not to participate in congregations.

Birth, aging, and death are all part of God’s design and are to be regarded and taught as positive values. Spiritual maturation and well-being can be experienced even in times of physical decline. The grace of God in Christ is important throughout life, including its last stages.

More and more active adults, fifty and beyond, are embracing the trend toward a more healthy and active lifestyle, which extends beyond mere physical well-being.

As a record number of people are entering into their retirement years with more discretionary time and increased longevity, the fifty-plus generation has the opportunity to disciple others.

In doing so, they:

  • Find purpose and meaning through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
  • Are motivated to give their lives away to people needing God’s grace.
  • Continue to grow in intimacy with God.
  • Tell their life stories to the next generation; proclaiming God’s faithfulness and provision.
  • Are fully using all of their talents, gifts, and abilities to make a major Kingdom impact.

Our aim at Age to Age is to sound an alarm, arousing congregations to awareness of the great opportunity for mature adult ministry — not unlike the “Paul Reveres” of the 1950s & 60s who cried out for the urgent need for children and youth ministry. These same children have grown up and are in need of ministry support again! This is part of the beginning of a new phase of ministry within the church that is in a way coming full circle.

There is a tsunami wave of retiring adults approaching with very little specific, intentional ministry designed to receive, (or reach out to) them.

There is the urgent need for:

(1) Evangelism to the many that have left the Christian faith or have never embraced it.
(2) Discipleship for equipping to the gray-haired “baby Christians” who have not matured spiritually.
(3) Service opportunities to allow them to mentor & model their faith to older and younger generations.

It is our belief that, like in the days of Habakkuk, God is doing a work among the nations. He is saying to write the vision; making it plain to be read, so that those who read it may run with it. We also believe that the days of the fathers turning their hearts toward their children and children to their fathers spoken of in Malachi are being seen at this time. This inter-generational connection is a part of the vision of this proposal help to bring awareness to “Ageism”, “reverse & mutual mentoring” and much more.

Now is the time to make these goals a reality. Now is the time to create effective ministries that reach out to adults over fifty and explore the possibilities.

The scope is broad and will be done in increments. Ministry plan descriptions are available and continued to be developed. Two categories of ages will be addressed in the initial phases.

1. The Sandwich Generation — people who care for their aging parents while supporting their own children. Just over 1 of every 8 Americans aged 40 to 60 is both raising a child and caring for a parent, in addition to between 7 to 10 million adults are caring for their aging parents from a long distance.

2. Boomer and Builder Generations – aged 65 or older; doubling by the year 2030, to over 70 million.