We are an aging nation.
Currently 13% of Americans are 65 or older and by 2030
this number will double.
The leading edge of the Baby Boomers (born between
1946 and 1964), have marked their 65th birthday, and
every day another 8,000 or so turns 65.
These “young old” adults will redefine retirement as they
have redefined social norms at every stage of their lives.
The church needs to be ready to engage and – perhaps,
re-engage with this vibrant adult group.
• We are an aging church.
The church is aging at a faster rate than the general population. The
median age in “mainline churches” is 64. This challenges us to update
our ministry with older adults. But the church like much of the rest of
society hears aging and sees decline.
• The good news is that aging is changing.
While there are numbers of faith-based offerings addressing aging - all
too often they emphasize disease and disability. While there is no
question that this is important, it is equally or perhaps more important
for the church to help dispel the notion that all older adults are frail,
needy, and sick. In fact only 5% of adults 65 and older reside in nursing
homes – the majority live independently in the community. (US Census
• The good news is that the church can change, too.
• New ways of thinking about ministry with older adults
• Change perception of the aging of the church from negative to positive
• Changes in language – deconstructing negative “ageist” language
• Understanding Boomer generational demographics – living longer and healthier lives,
time an resources, idealism and the desire to do something socially valuable, to give back
• Understanding Boomers’ faith journey and how to engage with them – what they will
connect with commit to
• Examples of old ministry models with new and potential new models
• Our image and model of ministry with older adults needs to meet the Boomers where
they are and help take them where they want to be. Data tells us that the Baby Boomers
in retirement will be healthier than previous cohorts, and will look for meaningful ways to
use their life experience. (John Mabry, Faithful Generations, 2013) New ministry models
will tap into the Boomer generation’s energy, ability, resources, and desire.
To be successful, we must get out of the mind-set that this ministry is to
and for older adults, and get into a practice of ministry done with and
by older adults. This requires getting out of the disease/disability model
and into a positive view of what our older years will look like and what
“aging well” means both for the individual and for the community.
• We need to start looking at aging from a holistic bio-psycho-
social-spiritual approach – recognizing that a multidimensional
view of aging is the new norm.
• We need to create new ministry models: ministry models that are
built around the positive messages of aging well.
• We must also not focus on one age demographic to the exclusion
of others. All of us have ministry to do, all are called to be formed
to be transformed and to continue as learners, teachers, and