Want to add years to your life while having fun and making friends? Here’s 6 great choices. Go for it.

The news is out. Taking regular exercise in later years can add years to your life. Indeed, the benefits of regular physical activity are remarkable.

Physically it helps maintain or lose weight. It improves the immune system, reduces the impact of illness and chronic disease. It enhances mobility, flexibility, and balance.

Regular activity can also help you fall asleep more quickly, sleep more deeply, and wake feeling more energetic and refreshed and even improves brain function.

Do we all want that? Of course. But does such exercise have to be as unstimulating as taking a walk or a swim? What about adding a competitive dimension? And then adding the benefit of comradeship and human interaction?

The good news is there are some great ways to keep fit while also having fun and engaging with others of the human race. And here come my top 6 – with a heavy bias to my favourite.

  1. Walking Football:
    This is about taking part in the beautiful game but at a slower pace. Though mostly for men, it’s not exclusively so.

    My introduction to Walking Football came two years ago as I hit my 77 year marker. I plucked up the courage to show my face, along with a friend, at the Elite centre of Premiership club Burnley.

    Wisely, they asked me to fill in a form with a lot of medical details. Then I was off – to discover a sport well within my capabilities, despite my years. And happy I needed no more kit than an old pair of trainers and a track suit, or shorts and a T-shirt.

    A 15-minute warm up with a crowd of guys and two women stretched muscles that hadn’t been used for some years. Then the rules were explained – no running, physical contact, no kicking the ball above head height.

    Divided into three teams of five to seven depending on how many turned up, we played a series of games. It might have only been at walking pace but it seemed fast and furious. It seems some people appear to walk faster than others.

    The next hour was exhilarating, wonderfully enjoyable and now part of my regular keep fit and live longer routine.

    But I was also to discover my Burnley colleagues and I were far from alone.

    From a standing start less than ten years ago, as an initiative to encourage more exercise among the over 50s, Walking Football has blossomed to where the UK as about 450 clubs – and rising. There are even teams across Europe and in America, Columbia and Mexico.

    To check it out and get even more of the flavour see the website of Walking Football.
  2. Walking Netball.
    This has done for netball what Walking Football has done for soccer. The original has been adapted and designed so anyone can play regardless of age or fitness level.

    One of its strengths is the memories that come flooding back for those who have played the active version in their younger years. And, of course, when a group of girls of any age get together there’s always some fun and laughter.

    To explore and find a team near you see the website of Walking Netball.
  3. Squash.
    Squash and old age are not necessarily mutually exclusive – as the fact that the National Squash Championships include an Over 80s category. It just means the emphasis moves from speed and power to placement and accuracy.

    This indoor racket sport gives the whole body a workout. Even those no longer in their prime can burn off an average of 500 calories within half an hour of playing.
  4. Golf.
    It’s probably true that golf caters for seniors more than any other sport – with the handicap system serving to keep a level playing field.

    On offer is a good walk in the fresh air – and the greater novice you are the further you walk. A muscle work out, thanks to carrying the clubs. And the need to think through ‘what next’ sharpens the mind.

    Then comes all the banter and friendship built round the 19th hole.
  5. Bowling.
    Bowling comes in a variety of guises – ten-pin, lawn and carpet for starters.

    All may look sedate but there’s great health benefits here. The heavy ball helps with improving balance and strength. And the activity increases balance and coordination.

    With a little Googling you should easily find a club with a seniors section.
  6. Pickleball
    You may never have heard of it but this racquet sport that manages to combine badminton, tennis and table tennis, is growing in popularity with those in later life.

    It’s played at a slower place, on a smaller court than tennis, and is easy to pick up.

    To know more see the website of Pickeball.

Take your pick from these 6 choices for fitness and fun or find an alternative of your own. But do get out there for a healthier and longer life.

And for more on health, fitness and managing your weight do see the wisdom from health and fitness guru Rosemary Conley on the AfterWorkNet website.

David Hall

Dave Hall spent his working life as a journalist on local newspapers, Christian magazines, and as a press officer. Married with two adult children – one living in Spain and the other close to his home near Burnley. At his village church Dave preaches and helps at Little Stars, the mums’ and toddlers’ group, and Messy Church.

What have you found as a way to keep fit and actually enjoy the experience? Please share here or with our Facebook Group.

Next year is like a new country – and these 5 wise ‘travel tips’ are not to be missed.

Going into a new year is a lot like taking a journey to another country. In both cases you don’t know exactly what’s ahead. And there are some wise things to keep in mind to make the very best of it.

So, as you voyage into 2019, here are 5 rather obvious ‘travel tips’ to make the journey as worthwhile as possible.

1.Be realistic about it.

When it comes to holidays, the brochures tend to make it all look far better than the real thing. After all, that’s their job. But we too can wrongly imagine the land of New Year will be significantly different to the one that’s gone before.

In reality, nothing magical happens when the clock strikes midnight on December 31st. There’s no Cinderella in reverse to be experienced. And this is one of the hard truths to learn about travel. That, wherever we go, we take ourselves with us.

If we’re tetchy, ungrateful, easily irritated, and self-centred, that side of us will still be with us as we journey on. A new country won’t fix it and nor will a New Year. Which means the need to take a realistic account of who we are and what we are like – and doing something about it.

2.Check your baggage weight.

I hate that awful moment at airports when the unsmiling check-in person tells me with unwelcome glee that I’m a little overweight. Sure, it’s a relief when I realise this is not personal and is about my luggage.

But what excess baggage might you be taking into the year ahead? Bitterness, hatred, shame, regret, jealousy? Or some other unhelpful emotions that will way us down when we are across the border of 2019?

These are the weights to leave behind – by forgiving others, forgiving yourself, by recognising that God loves us for who we are.

3.Choose the right travel companions.

There’s nothing worse than discovering that someone who’s great for an occasional coffee is a nightmare as a full-on travel companion. So who would we best have at our side in the New Year journey?

Will they enrich your life – and give you opportunities to enrich theirs? Will they speak the kind of truth you need to hear and be open for you to do the same for them? Will their positive outlook spur you on or their negativity drag you down?

Or think of it this way, who are those you can invest time in, celebrate with, and express love and appreciation for? And how can you make sure they are traveling with you and you with them.

4.Check your destination.

There’s the classic story of the airline passenger who ended up in Istanbul when they had bought a ticket to Torquay. (Think about it!) You’ll only have one opportunity to explore 2019 so make sure you get have a ticket for the right destination.

This is where having a few simple but clear goals come in. Not overwhelming ones that, in your heart of hearts, you know you’ll flunk in the first few weeks. But a fresh commitment or two on how to make the most of one more precious year in your afterwork stage of life.

For a little inspiration, here are three possible areas to explore –

Your new possibilities

Your health and fitness

Your service to others

5.Pack wisely.

To be honest, what you take with you may be the least of your worries. That’s because, over the years, you’ve accumulated a storehouse of knowledge, skills, know-how, experience and wisdom. As they say, ‘It’s in the bag’.

In which case, having packed it, don’t keep it all to yourself. You can make the coming year more rewarding for you and others by making sure what you’ve packed is put to good use.

Ahead is a new land waiting to be enjoyed, explored and enriched. Bon voyage.

Jeff Lucas

Jeff is still some way from his afterwork years. His passion is to equip the Church with practical bible teaching, marked by vulnerability and humour. And he does so as an international author, speaker and broadcaster. Check him out at Jeff Lucas.

Up for a new challenge? How about becoming a Waterway Chaplain?

Life after fulltime work offers countless new opportunities. And if you enjoy the open air and have a gift for helping people, here’s something that may well float your boat.

The UK’s river and canal network is home to a large number of boat-dwellers as well as those who take to the water for fun. And out there – offering friendship, practical support and a listening ear – are Waterway Chaplains.

There’s a great need for many more to join their ranks. That’s because we want every stretch of the UK’s 2,200 or so miles of navigable canals and rivers to have a visible Christian presence.

As Senior Chaplain, it’s my job to make that happen and my vision is, by 2020 , we will have increased our present 70 Waterway Chaplains to 200.

This is a great rewarding opportunity those with time to offer and a heart for people – to extend the love of Christ through pastoral care, friendship and practical support.

What kind of needs are there on the waterways?

Don’t imagine a Waterway Chaplain’s flock is made up of posh, self-sufficient, people with boats. It’s not all P J Wodehouse’s ‘Three Men in a Boat’ – larking about on the river. Yes, there are those using the waterways for fun or seeking an escape to tranquillity in their active retirement. But there are many on limited incomes. They may be there because a boat offers affordable accommodation. With some struggling to get by, often experiencing health and relationship problems.

That’s why I can tell you about people like –

Jim’ – with depression and financial problems. He was helped by a chaplain – over a period of months – to get housing benefit, appeal when his benefits were stopped, and have access to a food bank until he was well enough to return to work.

‘Alex’ – dying of cancer. A chaplain supported him, hosted his American family who came for his funeral and led a service to scatter his ashes attended by about 30 people from the local boating community.

‘Jenny’ – feeling lost and alone. She had a new-born child and a husband who had lost his job. Too far from Citizen’s Advice and with no money for transport or fuel, she needed help. After a chaplain put a card under her door, ‘Jenny’ was helped with their immediate problems with the chaplain staying in touch until they were back on their feet.’

‘Bill – sleeping rough as he journeyed between locations, with thoughts of suicide. He thanked a chaplain for saving his life by being in touch by text as he walked along the towpath.

Dave’ – living on £50 a week. A chaplain help him claim housing benefit and have access to a food bank. When bitten by a dog, the chaplain arranged for his infection to be treated as a temporary patient.

What kind of people are Waterway Chaplains?

Our volunteer chaplains come from local churches and include both lay people and ordained ministers. Some have a background of boating. Others have had no previous experience of inland waterways.

They commit to walking a mile of towpath each week, engaging with boaters, canal workers, anglers, dog-walkers, ramblers and others. Sometimes it will just be a walk – praying as they go. But this regular journey, with a listening ear and a praying heart, may well lead to relationships with those who need to talk or have other needs to be met.

Senior Chaplains provide practical training and mentoring support, including prayer. Each chaplain is given a lock windlass engraved with our key values ‘act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God’ (Micah 6.8). It’s a scripture that perfectly sums up the role of a Waterway Chaplain.

Could this be a role that you – or someone you know – could take on? Please find out more about this wonderful opportunity to serve others in the name of Jesus at Waterways Chaplaincy.

However, if walking the waterways is not up your street, you’ll find a host of other ways to use your God-given years after work on the AfterWorkNet website page Serving Your Community.

Mark Chester

Mark Chester is a former army officer and a Vicar in Surrey. He’s married to Zillah, who is also a Waterways Chaplain and they have two grown up sons and two grandchildren. To relax Mark rides horses – with more enthusiasm than skill – but not on the towpath.

Me, my mobile and God. Ten (suggested) Commandments for using a mobile

They say our smartphones are more powerful than the massive NASA computers that sent Apollo missions to the moon in the 1970’s.  In the UK, 85 per cent of us use our mobiles daily and some find it hard to resist regularly checking them – apparently every twelve minutes on average  – to text a message, catch up on FaceBook, play music or ask Siri or Alexa for help. Nothing wrong with any of it but let’s keep technology in its place. Particularly as we consider the habits of our children and grandchildren.

Here’s a very practical place to start that thinking! And food for thought for families we know

Ten (suggested) Commandments for using a mobile

  1. Never at a shared meal table. Including breakfast!
  2. Never sneak – under the table; in the loo…
  3. Make sure your privacy settings, especially on Facebook, protect you. It’s incredible how much information about you is out there. It could easily be exploited.
  4. Be secure and take passwords seriously. That means thinking about the process. Try Googling ‘how to set strong passwords’ and note them safely.
  5. Adults need to monitor teenagers’ mobile and other screen use. For those in our care, have a policy on where, when and for what they use their devices. Stick to it. (Katherine Hill’s book ‘Left to their own devices’ published by Care for the Family is excellent on this)
  6. Small children’s use of devices and online experience is in our hands. Parents and others looking after them need to how to limit their use appropriately.
  7. Wherever you find yourself – home, work, church – if you can, speak to someone face-to-face rather than text or call.
  8. Don’t allow your devices to interfere with your concentration. When you have work to do, fun to enjoy, people to spend time with, turn them off and put them out of sight.
  9. Never use when driving. Even on hands-free it’s very easy to be distracted. Silence it – like you do in church – and leave it screen down, in the glove compartment, or on the back seat. And if you need to use your phone, pull off the road safely and stop to do it.
  10. Try taking a mobile-free Sabbath. Perhaps on Sunday, dawn till dusk. Let others know so they don’t get worried because you don’t respond, and enjoy the experience!

How many of these do you agree with? Perhaps you would add to them. We’d love to know!

Do let us know what you think, and visit  AfterWorkNet’s Facebook page to see what others are saying.

If you would like to read in deep you can find Nigel Cameron book here

Celia Bowring
Celia isn’t retired yet – although she’s recently changed from being office-based to working from home, so working out her own use of time. Celia writes the CARE Prayer Diary along with many other resources. She also chairs Pray for Schools. And loves being a hands-on grandmother!

If only every church did these 6 things for their actively retired members.

Unlike their parents’ generation, today’s retirees are ready for a lot more than pruning the roses. Most have the health, energy and desire to maximise the years ahead. And their church could play a big part in them making the transition and living life to the full.

What could and should be done? Here are the big 6.

1. Realistic expectations

Don’t assume someone no longer in full time work will have lots of hours to spare. Reality can be very different.

Three generations of their family may have expectations and demands on their time – their children, their grandkids and their elderly parents. Rather than being able to contribute a little extra, they may need special care and support.

At the same time, they are likely to have plans for all those things that were impossible until now and they have worked so hard for.

2.  Seeing them as a distinct group within the church

Those ‘retired and active’ are likely to fall between those on one hand who prefer tradition and reflection, and people who enjoy energetic children’s action songs on the other! They are a distinct demographic many having grown up in the faith under the influences of the likes of Spring Harvest, New Wine, Alpha and Christianity Explored.

Almost certainly your church has programmes for children, youth, families, the elderly, and so on. Those in their active after-work years are actually another defined segment.

A great way forward is to put together –

  • A small group responsible for creating and arranging their own programme
  • A simple mission and vision statement about why the aim of such ministry and what the outcome should be
  • A budget line in the church accounts to support it!

3. Offering activities they need

The kind of initiatives that will help actively retired people flourish include:

  • Spending time with their peers socially: This needs to be no more than a few activities that have their focus on learning from each other – a walk, ten-pin bowling, a bike ride, a trip somewhere. And it should look nothing like a programme for the elderly.
  • Addressing relevant issues: Perhaps an event on the issues of stress or loss of status – followed by discussion. Or an annual ‘Heading for Retirement’ evening/day to help equip your people for what’s coming their way.
  • Developing a ‘buddy’ system: For those who want it, a seasoned retiree matched up with a newbie can be a great asset.

4.Don’t use them – develop them

Look for ways to release their experience, wisdom and gifts. This could involve creating a list of the workplace skills of your retirees that could be drawn on.

It also means thinking differently. Instead of first defining a role and then looking for someone to fill it, start by discovering the gifts and abilities waiting to be used and find a role that fits them.

Imagine the benefit of having –

  • A customer service ex-professional improving all the ‘touch points’ your church has with its members and community
  • An of entrepreneur or two thinking outside the box about what could be done with your premises or programmes
  • A market researcher developing an online survey to identify what your members see as their greatest needs
  • A well-read person helping you research facts, stories to enrich your preaching

5. Encourage them to be salt and light

Understandably, for a leader, the priority is likely to be meeting the needs of your church. But Jesus calls us to be ‘salt and light’, and with the present welfare cuts and social needs, there are ample opportunities for involvement.

This may be in the context of your church. Or a wider opportunity that will help to influence your community and cause your retirees to strengthen their faith.

Support and pray for them in whatever ‘salt and light’ role they take up, just as you do missionaries and those with other ministries.

6. Help them reach their peers

It is a well-established church principle that like attracts like. Mostly we think of this in relation to reaching youth but its equally valid for the retired and active generation, in view of their distinct culture, life experiences and present status.

This is an exciting opportunity that more and more churches are waking up to. There’s helpful thinking already in place about reaching the retired and active.

If you’re eager to understand more about the after-work generation, do check out the Church Leaders section on our website.

Do you have ideas or experiences relating to church leaders and the retired and active generation? Please comment here. Or join our FaceBook community and share them.

David Fenton

Dave is a retired clergyman spending his after-work time lecturing at Moorlands College, building relationships and sharing his faith at his local golf club, and escaping to a cliff-top caravan in Cornwall where his seven grandchildren enjoy the local surfing beach.

Join the fight against loneliness – someone has to.

Would you spare an hour a week to help someone who’s lonely?

I ask because there’s an epidemic out there that’s not only contributing to depression and reducing people’s health but also shortening their lives. It’s loneliness. Vast numbers of mainly older people, living for days and even weeks with no meaningful human contact.

This epidemic wouldn’t necessarily cost a penny to solve. What’s really needed is for caring people to pledge to give a little time on a regular basis. And with those no longer working full time being among those best placed to help.

How big is the problem?

Official UK figures classify some 9 million people as lonely. That includes about half a million who often go more than a week without seeing anybody. And about 200,000 older people who haven’t spoken to a friend or relative for over a month.

Those affected are mostly in their later years. Shockingly, more than half of all over-75’s see themselves as ‘chronically lonely’. At the same time, over 8 out of 10 young adults who live with a disability are feeling lonely every day.

These chilling numbers represent a vast variety of circumstances.

Their loneliness might be due to losing a spouse or partner. Even though, in the past, conversation hadn’t always flowed, at least there was someone else in the house. Now it’s all very quiet, except for the TV.

People become lonely through the loss of other family members, and friends. For others the cause may be a loss of mobility – they can no longer drive, and public transport is either inaccessible, especially in rural areas, or simply too much of a challenge.

The result is a vast number of fearful and distressed individuals living all around us. Their nagging fears include, ‘What would I do if I fell and couldn’t get up?’ ‘How can I make sense of my utility bill with all its different tariffs?’ And much else.

How is it damaging lives?

Doctors are now saying loneliness can do as much damage to health and life-span as smoking or obesity. It’s as bad for someone’s health as 15 cigarettes a day and twice as harmful as obesity,

The damage is not only physical. Loneliness reduces the brain’s ability to work as it should. It becomes ever harder to remember, concentrate, or even make every day decisions.

What can be done?

The size and scale of this issue can be seen in that the UK now has the world’s first Minister for Loneliness – appointed in June 2018 – to look at public policy that can address the issue.

Good as that is, the need is for troops on the ground. Those who care enough and with time enough to each play a part.

Could you and your church help people like this who live in your neighbourhood? Practical ideas to help make that happen will be in a future blog. But meanwhile, check out some great advice here: How to be a Visitor and Befriender

Dave Fenton:

Dave is a retired clergyman spending his after-work time lecturing at Moorlands College, building relationships and sharing his faith at his local golf club, and escaping to a cliff-top caravan in Cornwall where his seven grandchildren enjoy the local surfing beach.

Do you have a story of how the problem of loneliness is being addressed by an individual or a church? Then do share it in response to this blog or on our Facebook page.

There’s a secret to getting more from your after-work years. And this is it.

You know the words – ‘It’s better to give than to receive’. And that experience is waiting for everyone when fulltime work is over.

The ‘experience’ is to give away some of your time – by volunteering. It’s what almost half of those 60+ are doing. For some it’s a few hours here and there. For others it is almost like full time work but with no pay. For many it is something in between the two.

What do they get out of being on the giving end with their time and talents? What makes life for them richer, better and more rewarding?

Ask and you’ll hear a host of explanations as to why giving offers its own rewards. Things like –

‘To give my life a purpose’ – to have a reason for ‘being here’ and getting up in the morning

To enjoy company and a sense of belonging’ – and so replace one of the great benefits and experiences of full-time work

‘To give something back’ – having reaped the rewards of life, to do something worthwhile in return

So as not to let my skills and experience go to waste’ – to have the pleasure and joy that comes from using what you have learned

‘For the ‘sheer fun of doing it and the sense of achievement’ – getting a kick out of being of value to others and making things happen

Were you to ask a Christian the same ‘why’ question you could hear any or all of the above as an answer. But the response may also point to an added dimension – that of being a good steward of the time and talents God has provided.

Such voluntary work doesn’t have to be like ‘work’. Charities and clubs are looking for officers and committee members. Neighbourhood Watch Schemes need people – even to start them. There may be openings to be a school governor, a parish councillor or even a magistrate.

The opportunities to give your time and talents

Out there are organisations and agencies, needs and causes, all ready to gladly receive the time and skills you have to offer. These include –

Your church: Along with the routine tasks needing to be done, there ought to be ways your particular skills and experience can be used for the good of all. For ideas see our website at serving your church.

Your community: There’s a vast array of opportunities to contribute to your local social services and caring organisations. For ideas see our website at serving your community.

Internationally: From just a few months to a longer commitment, there are communities and individuals waiting enrich you by being enriched by what you have to offer. For ideas see our website at serving internationally.

Making the best choice

Before launching out to contribute your time and talents, here’s a checklist of things to be clear about –

Faith-based or not? Do you want to serve a specifically Christian cause? Or wanting to venture out into the wider world as part of being the salt and light Jesus spoke about?

With others or alone? Do you prefer company or are you happy to go it alone?

Managed of managing? Do you need to work to clear instructions or prefer a level of freedom to make your own decisions?

Corporate culture or not? Many larger charities have a culture and environment little different to a major company. In contrast, many smaller charities are ‘all hands on deck’. So think hard as to where you would most like to spend your time.

Flexible or not? Do you need to be able to respond to things like emergency grandchild care or grabbing a last minute holiday as a bargain?

But having thought it through, give it a go – for a richer and more fulfilled after-work life.


Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He uses his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and to spend his kids’ inheritance.

What’s your experience of giving your time and talent away in your after-work years? Do share by joining our Facebook group. We’d love to hear from you.

How to balance church and life when full-time work has gone – 4 key steps

They say there’s a similarity between a helicopter and a church – get too close to either and you’ll be sucked into the rotas.

This danger – so far as church is concerned – is even greater when fulltime work ends. You have the time. The church has the need. Before you know it you are busier than when on a pay roll.

That may be a good thing, and it may not be.

So here’s 4 key things to help you make the most of your church commitment in your after-work years.

1. Be realistic. Don’t let your mind or your church tell you that all your new ‘free time’ belongs to them. Just because you can do it does not mean you should do it.

In the same way you once aimed for a work/life balance, you may well now need a church/life balance. And in your new world of ‘freedom’ you may also have growing family pressures to take account of – grandchildren, frail parents and more.

Also, don’t be afraid to leave some space – for you and for others. A full diary is not a measure of godliness. And one great advantage of life after work is it can leave you free to step in when something unexpected comes up.

2. Be wise. OK, there is the potential to use your time, energy and abilities for, and through, your church in a way was not possible before. But your precious, God-given, time can only be spent once.

Before you put your name down for everything – or have it put down for you – make sure your time is being used for what you are best at rather than just filling a gap.

Think about what your past experience and present abilities equip you for in the service of your church. For inspiration, check out Using Your Life Skills

3. Don’t do ‘jobs’ do ‘ministry’. It is too easy to think ‘ministry’ is about church leadership and doing spiritual things – speaking, leading worship, praying and the like. But everything done in God’s service is ministry and can often be a ministry.
For example –

  • You can choose to be a Welcomer – or someone doing so while praying inwardly for those you greet and wanting them to see something of Jesus in you.
  • You can choose to serve coffee – or be someone doing so while looking out for new-comers and seeking to remember names and make contacts.
  • You can be on the crèche rota – or be someone doing so while actively engaging with new parents and welcoming and praying for the children and families in your care.

4. Have a servant heart. Along with the ‘nice’ jobs that might take your fancy are some grunge tasks that every church needs to have covered. This is all part of what St Paul speaks of as to ‘serve one another with love’.
To keep going, churches need unglamorous tasks to be undertaken by servants. To quote St Francis of Assisi, God calls us ‘to serve and not to count cost’. Life after work may offer you opportunities to do exactly that.

Dave Fenton

Dave is a retired clergyman spending his after-work time lecturing at Moorlands College, building relationships and sharing his faith at his local golf club, and escaping to a cliff-top caravan in Cornwall where his seven grandchildren enjoy the local surfing beach.

For more wisdom, ideas, and resources for your ‘after-work life go to afterworknet.com

Great news. You may be younger than you think.

There’s now a new way to calculate what counts as ‘middle age’ and ‘old age’ – and I think you’ll like it.

How does it sound to be told 60 is the new middle age? And that you should not be branded as ‘elderly’ until you are at least 70?

Please understand, this is not my wishful thinking but is based on serious research. And it’s something that matters to you and me for three big reasons – which I’ll get to.

But first the facts.

These experts tell us ‘old age’ should no longer be defined by how long someone has lived. Instead, it should depend on how many years someone has left to live – with people now living longer and healthier lives.

What does that mean for us in the UK?

The average clog-popping age is 79 for men and 83 for women. And when aging is seen in this way, ‘old’ becomes a word to only use of those with a life-expectancy of 10 to 15 years or less.

I can almost hear you doing the sums now – and hope you like what they add up to for you.

The expert behind all this is Dr Sergei Scherbov who says, ‘What we think of as old has changed over time and it will need to continue changing in the future, as people live longer, healthier lives.’

Dr Scherbov, of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria, used projections of Europe’s population until the year 2050 to look at how an increasing life expectancy changes the definition of “old. He highlights that two hundred years ago, a 60-year-old would be a very old person. But no longer.

Although healthy living, modern medicine, education, and more contribute to living longer, the research doesn’t suggest we are reaching middle age later. Rather, that middle age is simply going on for longer, with old age postponed to our last fifteen years of life.

And the three big issues in all this that matter to you and me?

  1. Government – national and local – must use this more accurate basis for their planning and provision. This is true of churches to too. Plans, projects and resources need to take account of the growing number of retired and active people – those who would once have been considered ‘old’ but not any longer.
  2. Churches must allocate resources and create programmes to cater for their new ‘middle-aged’. And must open their minds to the rich resource they offer to the life of the church. There’s more on this on the AfterWorkNet website under What Church Leaders Should Know.
  3. Those who are themselves the new ‘young-old’ must escape from the expectations of the past. They are not their parents or grandparents. And, with a more accurate understanding of themselves and their years ahead, they should grab their new season of life with all the passion it deserves. For ideas as to what this could mean see New Challenges.

To put it in a nutshell, if you are 65ish – or a bit more – then be sure to strut your stuff as a middle-ager. You may be moving into the slow lane, and have some joints that growl from time to time, but you are not ‘old’. So don’t live that way.


Peter Meadows

Peter uses his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and spend his kids’ inheritance.

For more wisdom, ideas, and resources for your ‘after-work life go to afterworknet.com

Time to spring clean your prayer life? Here are 6 great ways.

With spring on the way, the autumn of your life could be a great time to dust off your prayer life.

Like me, perhaps your times of Bible reading and prayer have become less than you wanted them to be. Working full time and years of hands-on motherhood certainly made me ridiculously busy.

It’s so easy to find prayer taking second place when you have one eye on the clock, to-do lists that seem never done, and constantly delivering other people’s agendas.

Does any of that sound like you? Have you found carving out time for you and God a challenge? That it’s been a bridge too far to find the strength you need each day – able to do little more than praying on the hoof and reading favourite bits of Scripture to keep you going in between Sundays?

Then help’s on the way – with six simple ways to spring clean your times with God. But first please ditch any guilt you may feel for the way it has become.

God understands and is so very gracious. No matter what, he meets us where we are and as we are – answering our prayers and encouraging us to keep following him.

But there’s more on offer than that in your after-work years – the autumn season of your life.

If you desire a greater sense of the Holy Spirit speaking truth, guidance and encouragement into your heart and soul you might decide to introduce more spiritual discipline into your life.

Life will still be hectic at times, but generally you should have a bit more flexibility to reorder your priorities. If renewing your prayer life is towards the top of that list the following might help.

  1. If you give a portion of your money to God’s work how about giving a portion of your time too? How much of your week is spent not only attending church and other activities and personal time with God in Bible reading, worship and prayer?
  2. This isn’t about being a ‘better’ Christian but a thirstier one!. God save us from self-righteousness!
  3. Augustine’s maxim was: ‘Pray as if it all depended on God and work at it as if it all depended on you.’ Faith is deciding to trust God which usually leads to action too.
  4. Without the Holy Spirit’s wisdom and strength, it’s impossible to deepen your prayer life. Reading plans and prayer lists, excellent though they are, won’t work on their own.
  5. What are the logistics of when, where and how to make this regular time happen? Philippa Lally, health psychology researcher at UCL says ‘If someone wants to form a habit they should specify clearly what they will do and in what situation and try to do this consistently. Over time it will start to happen more easily and require less effort.’
  6. Don’t be discouraged. There will be times when your best intentions just don’t work out. God is the One who rescues and lifts you up when you stumble. His love is stronger than anything else on earth and in heaven.

To explore more on this issue, our website has some helpful content on Nurturing Your Faith.

Celia Bowring
Celia isn’t retired yet – although she’s recently changed from being office-based to working from home, so working out her own use of time. Celia writes the CARE Prayer Diary along with many other resources. She also chairs Pray for Schools. And loves being a hands-on grandmother!

The word retirement is not even in the Bible. What is taught in scripture is transition. There is nothing that says you work most of your life and then get to be selfish for the next 20 years"

Rick Warren, PurposeDrivenLife