What to Know

With so many plates to spin, it is not surprising many church leaders have missed the significance and needs of their ‘retired and active’ members.

It is easy to assume the way it was is the way it is. But no longer.

Retirement today is different – physically, socially, practically and spiritually. And this has huge implications for church leaders as they provide pastoral care and help their people live out their faith at every stage of life.

In particular, so far as retirees today are concerned, church leaders should know…

  • They are not like their parents

    Today’s retirees are nothing like their parent’s generation. There are vast differences between their world now and the way things once were.

    In the past, those retiring were ‘already old’ and looking to take life easy – with little ambition or thought for adventure, However, among your members are those coming to retirement – or already there – who are –

    • Not considering themselves as ‘old’ or wanting to be treated as such
    • Still ‘young’ in mind, body and outlook – with many thinking about how best to invest this next stage of their lives
    • Open to fresh opportunities and experiences – not wanting to settle down but to get things done

    In addition, for those who have been high-achievers in their working life, they don’t want that to put on ice the wealth of valuable knowledge, skills and experience they have gathered on the way.

  • They are not ‘seniors’

    If your church has a ministry to seniors, this is not going to meet the needs of those now retired and active. They may be willing to serve in that setting – but that’s another story.

    Today’s retirees would most probably rather be anywhere else than counted to be among a group now designated as ‘old’ – with memories of Doris Day rather than The Beatles. Rather, they are looking for meaningful experiences among those as alive, energetic and outward looking as themselves.

  • They are not ‘traditional worshipers’

    In terms of their worship experience and aspirations, they are not ‘traditional’. It is true their spiritual roots were when churches mostly sang the words of people who were dead and with an organ for company.

    However, worshipers retiring today have grown older during the years of church renewal – and Spring Harvest worship and its kind. Indeed, they have been those who encouraged it rather than resisted.

    That means they may well have no taste for tradition and reflection, and may have outgrown the action songs of all age worship. As a result, they may be struggling to find a church experience that works for them.

    Think of it this way. If Mick Jagger came to your church, how well would his cultural needs fit in to what’s on offer?

  • They are a great resource for your church

    When a church leaders hears of someone no longer working the word ‘rota’ probably comes quickly to mind. Or has joy over another possibly willing set of hands to do some practical work.

    Yet something much more is now on offer. This generation of retirees is computer literate, internet savvy and has been immersed in the best workplace practice. So it is no surprise that there are websites offering ways for them to put their past workplace experience to use in the voluntary sector.

    Yet, should not a church like yours be able to tap into their skills in management, IT, finance, communications, mentoring, fundraising, accountancy, marketing, HR and more?

    Perhaps they can even add to your capacity to run a project in your community. One impossible in the era when those retiring had little more in mind than having more time to do their garden.

  • They need your help to adjust and flourish

    Their journey to and through retirement will be unique for each of your members. But, in one way or another, almost all need the pastoral support, wisdom and help of their church leaders.

    The good news is there is much you can do that will have a positive impact on the lives of your retirees, their families, your church and its community. Some of it is very simple. Some is very profound. And all is worth doing.

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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